Hands-on organic gardening workshops held in Round Rock
Round Rock Citizen Gardener Course Launched
Round Rock, TX—Twenty program participants completed the first ever “Round Rock Citizen Gardener” workshop Saturday, September 26th, initiating what program educators hope will be a new staple of education in Round Rock. The 10-hour class met in three hands-on sessions to build and plant a raised garden bed, construct composting bins, install a rainwater collection system, plant a fruit tree, and learn low-maintenance, low-cost gardening techniques and pest management.
“My goal [during the first session of class] is to give you everything you need, so that if you want to start a garden, you can go home and do it today,” said Jeff Ferris, Round Rock Citizen Gardener’s course teacher, as the class began. Class members took turns doing the work as Ferris provided instruction.
Neighborhood Harvest Project (NHP), a not-for-profit organization in Round Rock, held the course as part of their mission to “cultivate a healthy local food system in the Round Rock area and to provide education in sustainable, organic gardening techniques”. The Round Rock Citizen Gardener program is an affiliate of the Citizen Gardener course taught in Austin which began in 2008. Both programs provide instruction by a seasoned gardener, including a foundation for the new student to give back volunteer or apprentice work to local volunteer service organizations. Participants are then asked to perform 10 hours of service with one of the program’s partners, helping organizations do everything from planting trees to feeding the hungry. Upon completing this work, participants are awarded the distinction of “Citizen Gardener”, and have the tools needed to develop their own gardens.
Class sessions were hosted by the Round Rock Baha’i Faith Center on Gattis School Road.
“I enjoyed the class very much, it was so nice to meet local people with similar interests, such nice people, down to earth and funny. I learned so much and it really gave me a boost of information and confidence for my garden and also loved the info on getting a rain collection system started”, said Erin Rodriguez, who graduated with the participants Saturday. “I look forward to other related classes in the near future!”
“People all over the country are increasingly growing their own food. Seed companies have reported delays in filling orders because of significant increases in demand,” said Lori Ferris, president and co-founder of NHP. “Whether due to the economy, increased concern over the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in conventional farming, or because of a desire for fresh, high quality produce, people are gardening more and there is a great need for information. We want that kind of support to be available locally to our community in Round Rock.”
The organization hopes they will soon be announcing the location of the first community garden open to the public in Round Rock, where plots will be available for rent. “We’ll also be offering monthly workshops on gardening subjects and occasional special events, like a semi-annual plant sale,” said Jeff Ferris, who is also the Education Coordinator for NHP. He anticipates another Round Rock Citizen Gardener class will be held early next year, before the spring planting season begins. In the meantime, classes are being planned for folks who want to learn advanced methods or try other fun projects— to save seeds, preserve their harvest, build a solar oven, make their own soap or hand cream and more.
Neighborhood Harvest Project is a 501(c)3 public charity, non-profit organization whose mission is to promote a healthy local food system in the Round Rock area through the development of community gardens, and by providing education in sustainable organic gardening techniques. It was founded in 2009. See their website (www.neighborhoodharvestproject.org) for more information, or join the Round Rock Community of Gardeners (www.rrcommunitygardens.ning.com) for garden discussions and notifications of upcoming events. The team also posts updates on Twitter @TeamNHP and on their Facebook page.