The Edmond Sun

June 17, 2013

Expert panel will tackle gardening issues

Community gardens topic of panel discussion


Special to The Sun

OKLA. CITY — Every community garden in Oklahoma serves as a reminder of what people can do if they come together to work towards a single purpose and goal.

That’s one reason the Oklahoma County Master Gardeners are offering a “Community Gardening” workshop from 1-3 p.m. July 9.

“We want to help people learn what it takes to get a community garden started in their own neighborhood,” said Ray Hopkins, leader of the team of Oklahoma County Master Gardeners responsible for organizing the workshop. “Community gardens are a great way for people to get to know one another as they come together to grow vegetables, fruit and even flowers.”

The workshop, which will be at the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Service at 930 N. Portland, focuses on helping people interested in starting a community garden gain the skills they need to make their project a success from start to finish.

“Having a garden in a neighborhood where everyone and anyone can indulge their green thumb has proven to be one of the easiest ways to help bring a community together,” Hopkins stressed. “Gardening is one of the most popular hobbies in America and everyone reaps the benefits when people decide to get out and grow something.

“In a city where people don’t always have a spot for a garden, a community garden can be ideal,” he added. “Enjoying fresh vegetables that you helped grow is an achievement many of us can relate to and that’s an important goal of any community garden.”

Offered free to the public, the workshop will actually be taught by a panel of experts. Panel members will include Allen Parlier, Coordinator of the Closer to Earth Youth Gardens. Angela Jones, director of the Greater Oklahoma City YMCA Health and Wellness Initiative who coordinates all gardening project for the organization, also will serve on the panel, as well as Jerry Newhouse from the Oklahoma Organic Garden Association, Micah Anderson from the Department of Agriculture and Bob Wilson, who works with the Kiwanis Community Gardens.

Participants in the workshop will discover how to choose a site for a community garden, how to coordinate and train volunteers for optimum growth and how to garner support from local organizations and businesses.

From 1-1:30 p.m., the workshop will also offer participants a demonstration focusing on developing “vermicomposting” systems. This easy-to-implement system allows gardeners to speed up the normal process of composting organic materials with the use of worms. Gardeners who choose to use vermicomposting are helping in the overall disposal of waste, adding valuable nutrients to their gardens and soil, reducing the amount of commercial fertilizers in their landscapes and saving money.

Even though there is no charge for the workshop, Master Gardeners are asking participants to contact the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Service at 713-1125 to reserve a seat since space is limited. Residents also may register online via the “Contact Us” link at http:oces.okstate.edu/oklahoma.