Guest Column3/12/09

Sustainability grown at gardening workshops

March 12, 2009

By Mariana Lamaison Sears

Could you imagine a Williston where the energy of the sun and the wind are used to warm up houses, schools and businesses? A town where people can walk or bike from the village to the Taft Corners area and beyond? A town with composting services so our food waste is diverted from the landfill and transformed into fertilizer to help us grow our own vegetables and keep beautiful flower gardens?

This is the picture of the town we, members of the Williston Green Initiatives committee, imagine, and to make that vision come true, we are organizing a series of free workshops for beginner gardeners to take place in the spring at the Old Brick Church.

The hands-on series, From Seeds to Veggies, begins March 18 and continues with two more sessions April 8 and 29. It aims to help people jumpstart their garden, even if they only have a sunny porch or balcony to garden on. People will learn how to start seeds, how to grow veggies in pots, how to plant and grow potatoes and how to sow seeds directly outdoors. From each session, attendants will take home newly planted seeds ready to put by a sunny window. Each session will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the basement of the church.

Lynn Blevins, a member of the committee who gardens at her home on North Williston Road, will conduct the series and share with workshop attendants her passion for growing her food and the joy of gardening.

Blevins said there are environmental and personal benefits to having a garden at home and that is what moved the group to organize the series. The food needs to travel only from garden to kitchen, which makes it really fresh to eat and more nutritious and helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that would be emitted by trucks transporting food to grocery stores, she explained.

Home gardeners are less likely to use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and more likely to use natural fertilizer like compost, consequently growing organic vegetables and fruits, Blevins said. Also, growing their own food will save people money, which in these economic times is of concern to many.

“And it’s such a good, healthy activity for the individual,” she said.

At the March session, feature seeds will be tomato, eggplant, pepper, oregano and mint. For the April 8 session, we will learn about broccoli, kale, sunberry and basil. Finally, on April 29, we will work on winter and summer squash, cucumber and melon.

Pre-registration for one or all three workshop sessions is recommended so we can ensure materials for everyone. People can register by calling 878-5203 or by e-mailing greenwilliston@yahoo.com.

The Williston Green Initiatives committee is a grassroots group of Williston residents that was born last year at the Williston Into the Next Generation event, better known as WING. Besides the gardening workshop series, we are engaged in other efforts to make our town more sustainable and environmentally friendly: We are helping the town implement the recommendations from the energy audit recently conducted in Town Hall; we are also organizing a sustainability fair in partnership with Chittenden Solid Waste District to take place at the opening of the Williston Farmers’ Market; and we are collaborating with the Williston Historical Society to have the first waste-free July 3rd ice cream social this summer. If you would like to enlist yourself as a volunteer for any of our upcoming events, write to greenwilliston@yahoo.com.

Mariana Lamaison Sears is a member of Williston Green Initiatives.