Friday, January 9, 2009

Let's Get Growing

Grow it! Eat it!

There’s nothing like the flavor of a locally-grown tomato and there’s no location more local than your own backyard. Creating your own small food garden in 2009 could be an answer to many of life’s big issues. Food prices rose sharply in 2008 and economic pressures forced many Marylanders to reduce spending. At the same time, health experts told us to eat more vegetables and fruits, get more physically active, and introduce our couch-potato children to the great outdoors!

Last year many people told us that they want to start some type of vegetable garden but did not know how to begin. Our response is to launch the Grow it! Eat it! campaign in 2009- a joint venture between The Maryland Master Gardener program and the Home and Garden Information Center- to encourage more food gardening in Maryland. Master Gardeners are organizing Grow it! Eat it! teams at the local level and will receive special training early in 2009 so they can teach basic food gardening classes to the public. To schedule a talk in your community/school/church/library, just contact the Master Gardener program where you live- http://mastergardener.umd.edu/local/index.cfm

Our educational campaign will be supported by a new Grow it! Eat it! web site and blog. Horticulture consultants at HGIC will be prepared to answer all food gardening questions via the toll-free hotline and e-mail Q&A service.

We recognize that there’s a learning curve for all skills, including growing food. If you provide the desire and effort, we’ll provide the basic information and support. Whether it’s a container with one tomato and one basil plant, or a small, in-ground garden, we can help you have a successful new food garden in 2009! The campaign is not limited to new gardeners; we can also assist you experienced gardeners with everything from growing unusual crops to extending your growing season with a floating row cover or cold frame.

Our goal is to help start hundreds of new food gardens in 2009 AND create a network of enthusiastic growers that can learn from one another and tap into University of Maryland resources. Stay tuned for more announcements in the New Year, and please send me your comments and suggestions for this exciting new campaign. jont@umd.edu