Give the gift of growing your own

Published 1:11pm Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. timeframe of the workshop is classroom and field time in a small group setting with engaging and creative presentations.  A light breakfast, a local foods lunch and all work materials are also included.   There is a fee for the course and there is a scholarship available by referral.  One is asked to reserve their space quickly, as space is limited and the course fills up.  You can email or call 828-817-2308.

Mink started farming in Alabama as a home gardener in the 1980s with the aim of providing healthy food for his family. Less-than-ideal soil forced him to learn how to manage soil in the best way – experience. Mink is a great proponent of using cover crops, green manure and compost to improve soil health. As he learned more about big agribusiness and its detriments to the health of land and humans, he became an activist in the sustainable farming movement.  Today, Mink owns Leap Farm in Mill Spring, Polk County, North Carolina. This bio-diverse, GMO-free, sustainable farm specializes in organic methods. Mink chooses to sell his produce within 25 miles of the farm. He insists that at its essence, sustainable farming is all about local service – local farms providing food to local residents and restaurants.Mink is also an expert in marketing and value-added products. He sells both wholesale and retail and knows there is a home for everything he plants when he plants it.

Ronzello grew up tending her mother’s urban garden in the heart of Detroit, Mich. “My family were urban “truck farmers” as they called it. We grew to eat, not necessarily to market,” he said. Once a mother in Lansing, Mich., Ronzello’s aim was to grow to provide healthy food for her family, including all her own baby food. Organic was the only method used in those early days, prior to pesticides like DDT and Round Up-ready inputs and seeds. Seventeen years ago, Ronzello and her family purchased 23 acres in Green Creek, now called Thunder Ridge Farm, where soil blocks, companion planting, soil health, row cover are part of her marks’ for success: accepting sacrifice and learning what works and when is learned through her experience.  “ There is no one way to be sustainable. You must learn the basics from experienced growers and then tend your land based on what it reveals it needs and can yield for you. As my children have always been a part of tending the farm, be it the gardens, horses, or other animals, it’s my daughter that I’ve learned the most from.” Ronzello’s daughter, Jamie, owns her own organic farm, Barking Deer, on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai, where Ronzello visits and assist in the sustainable farming often.

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