Friday, January 17, 2014

Know Local: Help Save Our Growing Traditions

At one time, knowledge was shared mainly by conversation and experience. Farming was a much more common profession, so it was easier to connect with others to share skills, to swap ideas, and to ask questions.  But now, instead of asking my neighbor for suggestions, I am always asking, how do I connect? We’re more connected by technology today than ever before but for some reason, it still seems strange to walk up to someone and ask, “so…do you know how to save seeds?” 

     I know that this community is full of people with gardening and agricultural knowledge that I can learn from. There are farmers who can teach me to preserve a harvest and others who can simply offer valuable insights into food issues.
     The problem is that I am not sure how to find these people. Having grown up on a farm near Clarksville, I know a lot of farmers and local growers, but I am continually searching for ways to learn more. I rely on my parents for their gardening knowledge but I also take for granted that not everyone has a close friend or family member that they can go to with their concerns or to learn a new skill.
     Most beginning gardeners don’t know where to start or where to look. Who knows anything about soil? Or what a Brussels sprout plant looks like? Or where to borrow a tiller? These and a string of   other questions are always going to be running through a novice gardener’s mind. They want to succeed, but just don’t know where their support system and resources are. Even experienced gardeners are always learning new tricks of the trade.
     I know that the best way gardeners learn is through asking questions and learning from others. So I ask myself, “Wouldn’t it be ideal to have a list of people at my fingertips that I could call up with a question or a favor when I need to know when to plant a cover crop or how to raise a few chickens?”
     The desire to seek out experts who possess a variety of  gardening and food preparation skills has led me to create a 
     Local Knowledge Directory.  At GFGH, we want to compile a long list of profiles describing the character, skills and gifts that the people in our agricultural community have to offer to the next generation of   growers. We don’t want anyone to be scared away from gardening just because they don’t know where to begin.
     If you are reading this and possess useful gardening skills, be it composting, grafting,    fermenting or anything, please contact us at GFGH. We would love to hear from you and include you in our Local Knowledge Directory.  Additionally, if you know  someone who would be great for this directory, let us know. We want this to be a resource that everyone in our community can access. We know that Clinton County is full of amazing people and its time that their stories and skills were able to be shared.
     One is never done learning, but continually experimenting and fine-tuning an operation. This guide is not only for the new comers to gardening, but also for practiced famers and gardeners who are open to new ways of examining and approaching their work while meeting new people and building community at the same time.
 Nellie Ashmore, 2012 AmeriCorps VISTA

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