Every Saturday in July, the GreenMarket at the Alliance for the Arts (McGregor & Colonial, Ft Myers - Saturdays in July at 10 am) is offering free gardening classes by expert gardeners and farmers, who will present a subject and then answer questions, perhaps help you get better at understanding our challenging summer gardening scenario. So, if you have some time and want to exercise your green thumb, here's the schedule. All presentations are free, just make sure you bring a notepad and pen:
Sat, July 2nd, 10am: Edible Landscaping. Millisa Bell is a Master Gardener who has been gardening in the area for a number of years. She currently manages the Holton Eco-Preserve, whose mission is "helping people steward our earth through classes and events which promote sustainable lifestyles and enhance the native habitat of our community". She also volunteers with IFAS Extension Office to help promote sustainable practices in the community. Recently, Millisa has started keeping bees, and incorporating apiculture into her food garden projects.
Sat, July 9th, 10am: Organic... what does that mean? An introduction to organic food production. Farmer Ken Ryan, of Herban Gardens, has been growing food for decades, first as farm manager in the Boston area, and in SW FL for the last 15 years. Ken specializes in microgreens, herbs and produce, and counts the area's best restaurants and chefs as loyal customers. A board member of Slow Food SW FL, Ken will be guiding you through the complicated matter of what's organic and what isn't, the complexity of USDA organic certification and why some growers don't pursue it even though they don't use chemicals in their operation, how to live without pesticides, and much more. Don't miss this opportunity to hear what a true gardening and farming pioneer has to say about this complex matter.
Sat, July 16th, 10am: The path to self-sustainability. Andrea Guerrero, Chief Operations Officer of Heartland Gardens, will offer some insights about how to minimize the pressure of the economic recession by teaching residents how to become more self-sustainable. She will be talking about current projects you can get involved in, and what concrete steps YOU can take to start growing your own food.
Sat, July 23rd, 10am: Gardening with natives: an introduction. Kara Alfaro, owner of Elata Natives, will guide us through the ins and outs of incorporating local, storm-resistant plants that require minimal watering and fertilizing into our garden project. Elata Natives is always striving to meet the needs of the Florida environment, and prides itself on creating outdoor spaces which enliven the senses and compliment the existing attributes of each site.
Sat, July 30th, 10am: Rainbarrels and rainwater collection and use in the garden. Master Gardener Todd Roy is a horticulturalist at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. He will be giving us an introduction to rainbarrels, tips on how to use water wisely for gardening in SW FL, and will talk about his latest project, a solar-powered rainbarrel irrigation system.