CT NOFA recently held its first statewide Organic Gardening Education Day. It was held at four locations – Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford and Mansfield. Together, over 100 participants joined to make this a very successful day, just in time to get ready for the growing season! CT NOFA coordinated these workshops for young and old, from beginning gardeners to seasoned veterans.
In Bridgeport, Sal Gilbertie of Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens, Inc. and members of Public Allies Connecticut led a youth workshop at the Bridgeport Public Library Garden. Over 40 participants were on hand, including representatives from the Green Village Initiative, Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens, Inc., the Bridgeport Public Library, CT NOFA, Public Allies Connecticut, Cook & Grow, Friends of the Bridgeport Public Library and local families. Even the Mayor of Bridgeport, Bill Finch, joined the group and brought along some family members! The workshop began with a discussion of what community means to the youth, followed by a lesson and demonstration on seedlings and outdoor plantings in the garden. Modeled after First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House garden, the newly installed garden will grow a variety of produce, including onions, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, peppers, beans, peas and a variety of salad greens. This workshop is one of many initiatives of Bridgeport Beautifies, a major collaborative effort towards youth empowerment and beautification in the City of Bridgeport, created and coordinated by the Public Allies in Bridgeport.
At Common Ground High School in New Haven, Bettylou Sandy of Bettylou’s Gardening presented “Soils & Compost: The Best Soil for the Garden” to over 20 New Haven residents. She was on hand to answer lots of questions on home composting and other gardening issues. Attendees could also take advantage of Common Ground's first Open Farm Day of the season and their seed starting workshop.
Another workshop was held at the Good Shepherd Church Community Garden in Hartford. Over 20 were in attendance to hear Bill Duesing and Jack Hale present topics on issues surrounding testing and preparing soil, adding nutrients, cover crops and seasonality, and concerns about lead infiltration. This garden is a part of the Knox Parks Foundation, which hosts community gardens all over Hartford, feeding well over 300 families.
Meanwhile in Mansfield, UCONN Advanced Master Gardener, Trish Safner, worked alongside attendees at the University of Connecticut’s EcoGarden. The workshop included a tour of the garden led by students from UCONN’s EcoGarden Club, preparing the garden for the growing season, and planting broccoli and cauliflower seeds. Adjacent to the Mansfield Community Garden, this garden is an ideal teaching garden for students on the Storrs campus, and now offers a CSA and sells produce to UCONN’s dining services.