Local business creates educational farming center on Highway 108

Published 4:46 pm Monday, December 14, 2009

The gardens of Giardini on Highway 108 are about to grow and expand into a year-round experiential educational center in sustainable agriculture.

Mary Lyth and Joe Laudisio of Giardini will be working in cooperation with Lee Mink of Leap Farm in Mill Spring to create a Sustainable Center for Food and Agriculture, with a mission to create an elevated consciousness about food choices from the moment we plant the seed, until it is prepared and served on our dinner plate.

The first formal program will start in January and will be Sustainable Farming Methods for the Market Grower and Home Gardener.

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Mink will cover such topics as soil preparation, plot planning to include crop rotations and companion planting, soil preparations and amendments, seed starting and seed saving, sustainable methods of weed and pest control, extending the season and more.

Class sizes will be limited, so Giardini officials suggest that the public sign up early. Classes will be held on four consecutive Saturdays, January 16, 23, 30 and February 6 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

After the first of the year, more workshops and topics will be available. There will be further classes in sustainable agriculture as well as classes in cooking, pasta making, growing and using herbs, building a backyard wood fired oven and many others.

In addition to food related learning workshops, Leap Farm at Giardini will be an integral link in the SNAP! (Sustainable Network at Polk) Network CSA along with other local, organic farms.

For those who are not familiar with the concept of Community Supported Agriculture, it is a way to be assured of receiving fresh, local produce while supporting the growth of local farms.

This year, there will be two different ways that you can choose to be a supporting member. One way will be in the form of a traditional CSA, in that members of the community pay an upfront seasonal fee, and then receive 20 weeks of pre-determined produce on a weekly basis.

The second way will be to join the SNAP! Buyers Network. For a small membership fee, you will have access to a website that will list the availability of produce and goods in a given week, and then you can order just exactly those items that you would like for that week.

Giardini will also be working to organize a local Slow Food USA Sub-Chapter. Local chapters hold a wide variety of food related events that are designed to raise public awareness, encourage the enjoyment of foods that are local and seasonal, advocate for the farmers and artisans who grow, produce, market and prepare wholesome food, perform educational outreach in their communities and promote the celebration of food as a cornerstone of pleasure, culture and community.

If you would be interested in being a charter local member of this organization, contact Giardini and they will let you know when the first organizational meeting will take place.

For further information on workshops, CSAs and a Slow Food chapter, look on the Giardini website at www.giardinigardens.com or call Mary Lyth at 828-817-3727 to sign up.