Vegetable gardens have grown in popularity over the past few years and the extension educators at OSU Extension have teamed with other local agencies to offer a new program to help gardeners. At 6 p.m. every Monday through Aug. 20, gardening experts will be hosting free classes at community gardens throughout Mahoning County to offer free tips to better food production.
The Local Flavor, Community Picnic Series kicked off on July 2 at Fairgreen Neighborhood Garden in Youngstown. The program is sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Food Policy Council with support from staff members from OSU Extension and Mill Creek MetroParks. Extension educators Eric Barrett and Bill Snyder from Ohio State University Extension are on hand along with master gardener volunteers who are experts at growing home vegetable gardens. Additionally, Ellen Speicher, assistant horticulture director at Fellows Riverside Garden, will round out the panel of experts along with members of the Mahoning Valley Food Policy Council, who will share information about what's happening in local foods around the area.
"More and more people are starting to grow their own food," said Barrett. "In Mahoning County, we presently have over 30 community gardens."
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
OSU Extension educator Eric Barrett checks out the blight on a tomato plant and recommends ways to remedy the situation and save it. OSU Extension has teamed up with several other local agencies to provide free information and tips on growing a healthier vegetable garden through a series of free classes.
He said the recent spring master gardener's training program at OSU Extension saw 14 people enrolled, which is above the average.
Barrett said with the increase in gardeners comes an increase in questions and a thirst for knowledge. From April through October, the OSU Extension office on Ohio 46 in Canfield has been offering a free plant and pest clinic. Every Monday and Thursday, the office is staffed with certified master gardeners who can answer questions about plant diseases and pest control. A resident of Mahoning County has only to bring in a leaf or pest from a sick plant and leave with answers on how to remedy the situation.
While the Monday-Thursday day clinics at the extension office are for any plant or pest problem, the new on-location classes focus only on vegetable gardening. The program is free and open to any Mahoning County resident. Because the classes are held in the evening, those who work during the day and can't get to the in-house clinic, will now have a place to go and get help.
"They can bring in portions of their sick plants and their questions," Barrett said. "We are hoping that more people will come together, bring their friends, and take home a nugget of information that will help them in their own gardens."
He said each session could be different. The discussion will follow the questions asked by participants. If most have tomato questions, Barrett said the session may focus on tomatoes. The session will also feature tips and information on the plants that are growing in the garden where the classes take place.
"It is recommended to bring a pencil, tablet and lawn chair," Barrett said.
Upcoming sessions are scheduled as follows. Each session will begin at 6 p.m.
July 9: Mineral Springs Community Garden, 723 Mineral Springs Ave. (near Glenwood).
July 16: Lincoln Park Community Garden. 261 S. Jackson
July 23, Iron Roots Farm, 820 Canfield Road
July 30, Jubilee Gardens, 150 Lafayette St. (at Lafayette and Highland).
Aug. 6, Fairmont Community Garden, 703 Fairmont (at Fairmont and Covington)
Aug. 13: Bennington Community Garden, corner of Bennington and Kimmel.
Aug. 20: Donald Ave. Community Garden, 1971 Donald Ave. (Corner of Donald & Gem)
For more information on the classes, contact OSU Extension at 330-533-5538 or mahoning.osu.edu