Yesterday was a day full of fun and learning for my granddaughter and I at the NOFA NH Conference. We met fellow gardeners and learned about a variety of organic methods to enhance our gardening needs.
Can you imagine, there were almost 50 workshops offered. If only we could have attended more – three just didn’t seem like enough since we were interested in so many of the topics.
The opening speaker was well-known author and co-founder of Small Planet Fund, Frances Moore Lappe. She showed us how as individuals and as a group we can be influential in creating the world we want to live in.
Our first workshop was with Dr. Alan Eaton, Entomologist, UNH Cooperative Extension. He introduced us to the Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), which is a small vinegar fly that can potentially do deadly damage to our fruits. A female SWD can lay up to 300 eggs, and they can produce up to ten generations per year. The SWD is not something we want in our gardens, and we will have to help identify their presence in order to combat their potential negative impact on our fruit crops.
For more information, check out: http://www.nh.gov/agric/divisions/plant_industry/documents/swd-fact-sheet.pdf
Our second workshop with Don Keirstead, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, provided us with information on increasing the number of native pollinators in our gardens or on our farms. By planting the right flowers, shrubs and trees adjacent to our gardens, we can draw native bees, butterflies, moths, birds and other helpful insects. There was also an informative exchange of information between the gardeners and farmers in the class. To my granddaughter’s delight, he handed out a wonderful poster with pictures and descriptions of various bees. This summer we’ll be able to consult this poster and identify some of the bees in our yard.
Our last session was on one of our favorite topics – chickens. Homestead Chickens: Eggs, Entertainment and Excrement! moved from standing room only to sitting on the floor and backing up into the hallway. If you are wondering if there are a lot of people interested in where their food comes from, this over-flowing class would be a perfect example. People are wanting to keep chickens in a healthy environment, have fresh eggs, manure for their compost, and in some cases fresh meat. Beth McGuinn did a great job of taking us from preparing for the purchase of chicks right through how to deal with specific challenges and all the joys of chicken keeping in between.
It was a long day, but a productive one for learning new things about organic gardening and sharing with fellow gardeners. My bonus was I got to spend it with my granddaughter and to see her excitement for the coming gardening season. Later that evening, I even got to play Angry Birds with my grandson. Perfect day – I got to think about gardening and see both g’kids.
This post has been linked to the GRAND Social blogging event.