Grow Your Own Produce Classes Are Back!

Interested in cultivating your own food? Join us for our annual Grow Your Own Produce Workshop Series! 

By Brita Zeiler, Community Room Coordinator & Co-Manager

Many of us are looking forward to warmer weather, longer days, and the opportunity to get our hands dirty in the garden. New gardeners may be looking for resources to learn how to plan and create a vibrant garden. While experienced gardeners seek to get expertise and questions answered. All are welcome to the Grow Your Own Produce Workshop Series where they will learn to develop their own Permaculture Gardens!

Educator and Designer, Marisha Auerbach answered a few of my questions about her unique workshop series:

What will new gardeners & experienced gardeners walk away with from your Permaculture Series?

Each month, we discuss the key things to do in the garden to help keep us on track with the seasons.  New gardeners will find the information on when to plant and how to tend to your plants each month as a valuable guideline to help them learn how to have a good harvest.  By gathering together each month, I provide "bite sized" information to help new gardeners avoid being overwhelmed by the vast amount of possibilities in the garden.  Experienced gardeners seem to always find something new that they learned in each class.  This is why some people choose to take the series more than once!  Experienced gardeners enrich the discussion by asking more advanced questions and providing insight based on their experience.  This helps our class understanding deepen into the differences that we may experience by having different microclimates in our yards and living in different microclimates of our region. 

We have enough time for everyone to get their questions answered.  This allows for customized information to support participants in their gardening endeavors.  

There are so many things to consider in the garden that there is always something new to learn.  From reading the landscape, proper harvest techniques, varieties bred for our region, pests & diseases, and how to develop a resilient garden in an unpredictable climate, we cover many different topics in the garden throughout the workshop series.  


What are some of the highlights and not-to-miss moments of your series?

The first class helps students with site analysis.  We go over how assess the offsite influences (sectors) and microclimates on your site.  Offsite influences and microclimates can help us identify how to develop a garden layout that matches our unique considerations of our site.  We also talk about how to design a garden based on your relationship with your landscape.  These considerations help us enhance our localized conditions to put the right plant in the right place.  

I consider each class to have highlights, depending on what each participant wants to learn most.   

Each month, we cover the top vegetables for the month and there is a theme for each month.  I love talking about how to build soil, edible flowers, saving seeds, and food preservation.  Many people find the section on pests and diseases to be very useful.   

The classes in July and August are outdoors.  We have a field trip to look at and taste various berries that one could grow in their garden.  In August, the class is at my house and we cover Seedsaving and the Winter Garden.  This class actively teaches each student how to save seeds with hands-on activities.  September's class also has a hands-on component.  In September, we talk about Putting up the Harvest and actively do some fermentation and dehydration during the class. 

Why are you passionate about growing food?

My connection with my landscape helps me inhabit my home.  Dancing with life in this way is our birthright.  It is a beautiful way to practice coming home to planet earth, Cascadia bioregion, Woodstock neighborhood.   By having a diverse landscape outside my door, I feel in touch with the seasons.  I recognize the birds that visit at various times of the year and I get to know what they like to eat and where they like to be.  I love the seasonal harvest cycle.  I find that I look forward to the new crops as the wheel of the year turns.  Gardening is an activist practice.  By stewarding my soil and eating local food, I know that I am reducing my impact on other lands.  Food is one thing that all people need to live.  By developing a practice of gardening, it enhances my resiliency and helps me have information and surplus to share with my community.  I grow many diverse types of vegetables and fruit and I also grow my own medicine.  My surplus medicinal products are available to my community when they need some support from our herbal allies.  I know that my home garden is doing it's part to protect pollinators, both the European honeybee and the native bees through diverse flowers and seasonal blooms.  

Planning, Design & Framework

Tuesday, February 13th 7-9pm
This opening session will focus on garden planning and design. From the Macro perspective to the microclimate, we will discuss Permaculture design strategies that can maximize your yields and diversity of crops throughout the season. Fruit trees, berry bushes, and other large landscaping elements will be discussed as the framework for creating the context for your space. Each participant is encouraged to come with a base map of their site. Please contact Marisha if you need support before class to have this available.


Indoor Seed-Starting, Early Plantings & Perennial Crops

Wednesday, March 20th 7-9pm
In March, it is time to begin planting seeds both outdoors and indoors. This session will focus on those early plantings and the varieties that perform best for our climate. Perennial vegetables can be transplanted at this time. Since many perennial vegetables are new to gardeners, Marisha will share about growing and cooking some of her favorite types. Seed catalogs and other resources will be available as references for each participant to make a personalized planting calendar.

Cole Crops, Greens & Soil Building

Tuesday, April 10th 7-9pm
April is a key time for all of the Cole Crops, such as Broccoli, Kale, Cauliflower, Collards, and Cabbage. It is also a time of planting greens. As many plants are being planted in the garden during this month and the months to come, we will highlight soil building strategies in this class.

Warm-season Crops, Edible Flowers and Attracting Pollinators

Tuesday, May 1nd 7-9pm
In May, the weather typically gets warmer and many flowers begin to bloom. We will discuss reliable varieties of warm-season crops to grow in your garden and ways to maximize microclimate and production. Many of these plants require insects for pollination. You will learn about pollination, pollinator insects, and flowers that are useful for attracting these special critters. Many of these flowers have multifunctions. We will highlight edible flowers, their functions in landscapes, and recipes.

Maintenance and Harvest

Tuesday, June 5th 7-9pm
June completes our planting of the summer vegetable garden and then it is time to focus on maximizing the harvest. For the urban gardener, this may mean optimizing a small space to produce as much food as possible. We will discuss strategies for optimizing yield of your vegetable crops throughout the growing season. We will highlight the best types of trellises for plants that like to grow up.

Berries, Herbs and Water Catchment

Tuesday, July 10th 7-9pm
This workshop will focus on different types of fruiting crops that are available right now. We will taste different varieties and discuss recipes and ways to put up the harvest of berries. We will talk about water catchment and how to determine what type of system would work best for your household. Handouts will include a to do list for the month, herbs for tea, and other pertinent information.

Seedsaving and the Winter Garden

Tuesday, August 7th 7-9pm
In August, it is time to save seeds. The weather has been dry and many plants are ripening their seed. This workshop will cover the basics of saving seed and offer you the opportunity to gather some hands-on experience. August is a key month to get many starts in the ground for harvest in the winter and early spring. This class will highlight what is happening in the garden in August, how to preserve your harvest and prepare for the coming month.

Putting Up the Harvest

Tuesday, September 11th 7-9pm
The abundance from the garden and orchard is coming in and it is time to put it up for storage in the winter. In this class, we will discuss the key ways to store food for the winter including canning, dehydration, fermentation, & freezing. A key component of this class will be focused on how to assess what your family will eat in the winter and the space that you have available for storage. The last of the winter crops should be in the garden by Equinox so we will cover the last of the plantings. As always, this class will highlight what is happening in the garden in September, how to preserve your harvest and prepare for the coming month. Handouts will include a to-do list for the month, information on canning and food preservation, and other pertinent information.

Garlic, Cover Crops & Compost

Tuesday, October 9th 7-9pm
October is a time for returning inward and thinking about nourishing the soil for the future garden. This class will highlight soil building method including mulches, composting, leaf mold and more. We will discuss types of cover crops for building soil tilth and fixing nitrogen. Garlic goes in the ground this month for summer harvest. We will talk about the different types of garlic and best varieties for our region. As always, this class will highlight what is happening in the garden in October, how to tend to your garden, and prepare for the coming month. Handouts will include a to-do list for the month, information on soil building methods, and other pertinent information.

Wildlife in the Garden, Nourishing Soups & Planning for the Coming Year

Tuesday, November 6th 7-9pm
In November, the weather has become cold and the garden has been put to bed. However, the birds, insects, and other critters still need habitat to keep them around. During this class, we will discuss ways to encourage these allies to stick around in your garden. By having active food webs in the garden, we invite collaboration and enhance fertility cycles on site. As this is our final class for 2018, this class will provide juicy information to help you begin planning for the 2019 garden season. We will also highlight nourishing soup recipes from local herbs, veggies, and stocks. As always, this class will highlight what is happening in the garden in November, how to tend to your garden, and prepare for the coming month. Handouts will include a to-do list for the month, information on wildlife, soup recipes, and other pertinent information.