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Free Community Gardening Workshop Seeks Final Registrants

Leon County

If you’ve ever thought of starting a home garden, but didn’t think you had the time, space or skill to do so, help is on the way. Local gardening experts are hosting a free, day-long series of gardening workshops for beginners later this month.

Matt Kopka said he had just gotten his advanced degree in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida when he got involved.

“I was just a few weeks out past my doctorate when I got introduced to the county’s Sustainability Group – including Maggie Theriot – and they asked if I’d like to write them a report about the local food scene and emerging local food movement.”

Of course Kopka said “yes!” Among his report’s major findings:

“About one-percent of the food that we consume in Leon County is actually grown here. If we tripled that for example, which would be a very easy goal, then we could be talking tens of millions of dollars in jobs, related infrastructure, all of the nutritional benefits that would come with it,” he said.

That was back in 2013. Also around that time, Leon County had a Community Garden Network, which in the intervening years had gone a bit dormant.

“Our Community Garden Network had originally addressed community gardens and was busy mapping and trying to build out from the 125 community gardens that we had. We made a good decision a short time ago at one of our meetings that we should embrace all the gardeners in the area.”

While encouraging even more gardens and gardeners. This, said Kopka, led to planning an event that happens the last day of this month, Saturday, March 31st. “We quickly hit on the idea that we should hold a local summit or conference. Our concept being that it should be a very organic affair with neighbors teaching neighbors.” Kopka explained there will be a total of 10 gardening workshops and some other special attractions.

“Starting a garden, mulches and cover crops for gardens, on composting,” he said, ticking off just a few of the individual session. “Shacafrica Simmons is our caterer and she donated one third of the cost of our vegetarian lunch that will be offered and I’ll stress it’s all free. We wanted to make it available to everybody.”

Free though it may be, there are still space limitations. So Kopka was holding some slots open for WFSU listeners who can visit the EventBrite web site to lock in an admission.

“Probably the simplest thing for them to look for is ‘Community Garden Network, Tallahassee.’ Do a search when you get to EventBrite and our day of workshops, Growing Garden and Community, will come up.”

The event itself happens Saturday, March 31st from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. at the Center for Global Engagement on the Florida State University campus.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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