Spring nears; is it time to start ‘doing’?

Last weekend at the annual Homegrown Retreat, I had the pleasure of listening to two inspiring speakers.

Friday night, Andy Nowak, (who has become the volunteer-to-end-all-volunteers for school gardens, Farm to School and Slow Food) spoke to a crowd of well over 100 people about the importance of “doing.” As someone who apparently does not believe in naps, Nowak professes his love of being active. Whether working in his local school’s garden or assisting with coordination and development of Food Hubs in urban counties, he spoke of success stories within the local food movement in and around Denver’s metro area.

Many of these projects are being duplicated in some way in our neck of the woods, but I have a Nature’s Oasis receipt full of scribbled ideas (seriously, I need to remember to bring paper to meetings) that I think may work in La Plata County.

On Saturday, again, more than 100 people sacrificed a gorgeous weekend day to partake in a full day of food (production and consumption) talks and workshops at Fort Lewis College. For me, the highlight was a short, energy-laden and uplifting talk by FLC’s Janine Fitzgerald. Her love of her land, farm and garden made all of us ready to “do.” What resonated with me was her constant goal of finding a balance between “doing” – farming, learning, writing, educating – and “doing nothing” – listening, walking, resting. For many of us, we become so overwhelmed with “doing” that we forget to stop. To listen. To reflect.

For our wedding more than 12 years ago, my wife and I bought a print from an artist named Brian Andreas. On it reads: “We had gone far enough together to listen easily in the quiet spaces.” Thanks for the reminder.

However, for those of you who are chomping at the gardening bit and are already shaking out the soil-laden cobwebs, strengthening the lower back and knees, and re-establishing those tool-formed calluses to start “doing” – you are in luck. Colorado State University Extension will soon be hosting our annual spring workshop directed toward gardeners and small-acreage producers.

This year’s title, “Integrated Land and Garden Workshop,” is a fancy name – well, maybe not fancy, but any time you use the word “integrated,” I think it ups the quality of the program’s content. But it’s simply a chance to learn about a variety of topics that can help you be a better gardener (small-fruit production, propagating native ornamentals, choosing the best apple rootstock), farmer (food safety, growing hops) or even eater (purposing underused cuts of meat).

So technically, if you were to succeed with what you learn at this workshop, you should be able to make a meal of beef brisket, raspberries and beer (all safely grown locally, of course) under your favorite apple or native tree.

The workshop will be held Tuesday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. and ends around 4:30 p.m., but we promise to fill you up with snacks, coffee and a catered lunch. The cost is $20 and preregistering is recommended as space is limited.

parmenterdm@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.