Saturday, May 09, 2009

No-Till Farming Demonstration

Portions of this piece were written by our neighbor and fellow community gardener, Erin K.

Stop by to see the No-Till Gardening Demonstration on May 13th at 6:00 pm!

One of our neighbors has done missionary work in Zimbabwe. Megan has helped farmers learn a method of no-till farming. This is a hot topic in sustainable agriculture, as it saves the land from erosion and avoids fossil fuels normally spent when digging up the land.

This coming Wednesday at the community garden (at the corner of Huy and Oaklawn), Megan will be demonstrating a no-till method of farming that she learned during a year-long agricultural internship at ECHO (Educational Concerns Hunger Organization). The method, also known as Farming God's Way (FGW), originated in Zimbabwe and is based on the two principles found in creation of: a) no deep inversion (tilling) of the soil; and b) utilizing a natural blanket of mulch to keep the soil covered. FGW is used throughout Africa to train and equip rural farmers to increase their yield potential.

For more information about the two organizations, click on the links above.

Feel free to wear old/gardening clothes and shoes if you would like to help dig the planting stations. Looking forward to seeing you there!

The basic idea of no-till agriculture is that the land already has a balanced ecosystem of plants, animals and insects living above and below the surface. By tilling it up, the land becomes vulnerable to erosion and disease. Yields are often significantly higher for no-till methods. It is also a good method for farmers in developing countries as it can be done without expensive machinery.

Megan is going back to Zimbabwe in just a few short weeks, but before she goes she will leave us with a large section of corn planted for us to share.

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The entire group of gardeners who are working with us is quite an impressive group. Each member has shown a tremendous level of enthusiasm and initiative. Besides the no-till section, neighbors have had large quantities of mulch delivered, they have staked off the plots, assisted with tilling and have already put in walkways. It is a dream come true when the community takes ownership of a project, and that is certainly happening with the garden!

Check out the picture above of the freshly mulched pathways between the plots in our new garden! Pictures from the left are Frank, Cheryl, Zeila and Tim. Photo by Kevin (you can double click the picture for a more detailed view).

The regular times for working in the garden are Wednesday evenings starting at 6:00 pm and Saturday mornings starting around 9:00 am. We'll be in and out at other times, but those are the best times to catch the group there and to share tools and ideas!

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