There is more than one way to feed a family. And it doesn’t need to involve expensive grocery store trips. Growing your own foods is becoming more feasible, thanks to organic gardening methods and experts who are working to share their knowledge.
One such expert is Ron Christie, an organic farmer and master gardener in Concord. A former Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire (NOFA-NH) board member and current leading Gardener of the Year, he’s been dedicated to assisting aspiring gardeners for the past 10 years.
Christie started a gardening workshop series originally in 2010, when he was a master gardener program coordinator for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension (known as UNH Extension, which provides research-based information and non-formal education programs in topics areas such as food and agriculture, natural resources, youth and family development, and community and economic development).
“I saw a need for a comprehensive vegetable garden program that would meet the needs of people who wanted to grow their own food using organic methods,” he said. “And I found that there are lots of programs for farmers, but not much for gardeners.”
Christie collaborated with NOFA-NH, as well as Grow Nashua, Regenerative Roots and the Greater Nashua Food Council to develop a Feeding the Family Organic Gardening workshop series and bring it to Nashua last year. The success of that program prompted it to expand this year – through April 22, this series of workshops will be held at the Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn. They will cover everything from overall planning to successful harvesting.
According to Nikki Kolb, operations manager at NOFA-NH, the workshops will specifically cover vegetable garden planning, starting transplants from seeds, container and raised bed gardening, healthy soil, producing higher yields, pest management, irrigation, growing favorite vegetables, a four-season harvest and other tips and tricks of the trade. Each workshop will feature a presentation by Christie, in addition to demonstrations and “lots of dialogue” with gardening experts.
“We want to help people learn how to grow healthy, pesticide-free, nutrient-dense vegetables and fruit,” Christie said. “Our goals are to introduce gardeners to alternative growing systems backed by science-based research and personal experience, and to increase gardeners’ knowledge of how to grow in an ecology base system.”
No prior gardening or farming experience is necessary to attend and participate in the workshops; all that is required is an eagerness to learn.
“Just show up and participate,” Christie said. “Bring your questions and stories of success and failure. Both new and seasoned gardeners will learn new skills.”