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Home  »  Ag Sectors

Growers learn to be mentors

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By STEVE BROWN



Capital Press



Those experienced in growing food will learn how to share that knowledge with others during a series of Saturdays-only workshops and hands-on sessions sponsored by Washington State University Extension.



Feb. 1 is the deadline to apply for the "Growing Groceries" program to begin Feb. 9. Sessions will be held in and around Everett, Wash.



Local and regional experts will talk about the latest research-based practices on such topics as choosing a site, building healthy soil, starting from seed and managing pests.



A featured speaker is Graham Kerr, known as TV's "Galloping Gourmet" and now a prolific author and speaker.



"I simply could not imagine a more important Extension course than 'Growing Groceries,'" Kerr said. "The idea of training mentors to help backyard edible gardeners is a wonderful example of the great American ethic in operation. ... I firmly believe we're in a relay race in our culture, and the baton we are carrying is growing and preparing food.



"Three generations know very little about growing and cooking food. We're used to having someone else do the work for us, and we're losing touch with the soil."



Kerr said his goal is to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables to seven servings a day by the year 2020, then to nine servings and then to 11. This will greatly reduce chronic illnesses in the U.S., he believes.



"We should nourish the soil so it nourishes the plant and the plant nourishes us," he said.



The mentor training began in 2009 in response to groups and families in the region who wanted to grow community and food bank gardens. To date it has trained more than 80 volunteer mentors.



Tuition is $135 for those able to volunteer at least 35 hours over the next year or $185 for those not able to make a volunteer commitment.



Applications: www.GrowingGroceries.wsu.edu



Information: Sharon Collman, 425-357-6025 or collmans@wsu.edu



Registration: Karie Christensen, 425-357-6039 or e-mail christensen4@wsu.edu



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