Workshops offered for community agriculture

The Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon County received a grant to do series on community-supported agriculture. The goal is to teach people about growing vegetables and fruit in northern Nevada who will then share information within their communities. Many people, especially elders, are suffering in this economy and aren't able to buy the fresh vegetables they need. With a few pots or a few plants in the ground, they can raise some of what they eat for a more nutritious diet.

For 20 years CSA has been a way for consumers to buy local food directly from the farmer. People buy a share of the farmers' harvest and may receive a box or basket of vegetables, eggs or other farm products each week through the growing season. A share might also be called a membership or subscription.

The advantages to the consumer include fresh, naturally ripened food. Since most CSA farmers focus on building soil with humus and compost, there can be a higher nutritional content with greater flavor. Farmers often grow things a family hasn't tried yet and include recipes in their boxes so people discover wonderful new tastes. Consumers know who is growing their food and can visit the farm. The benefits to the farmers are having a definite market and receiving payment up front. They develop a personal relationship with their clients and can tailor what they deliver to their clients' preferences.

Buying food locally also reduces our carbon footprint because less fuel is needed in transportation. Most CSAs are organic or use few inorganic pesticides, which are often petroleum-based.

Steve and Marsha of Churchill Butte Organics have a 5,000-square-foot biointensive garden with hoop houses in the winter. They feed 25 families and supply two restaurants. Their farm is completely off the grid. They generate their own electricity for their water pumps. They feed the soil with compost, take care of natural pollinators and worms, grow what works here, attract birds for insect control and use nontreated lumber around their beds.

You may help the hungry by planting an extra row of vegetables in your garden to donate to Friends in Service Helping in Carson City or the Carson Valley Community Food Closet in Gardnerville.

The Bonsai, Getting Started workshop is 11 a.m. Saturday at Greenhouse Garden Center, Carson City.

JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.


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