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Growing Power – Workshop in Review

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This is Power! This is real power! Worms! Worms make soil, the best, most fertile soil imaginable. WORMS + COMPOST = SOIL. That’s the truth. Compost = Waste. Take some waste, add some worms and produce soil that will grow virtually anything. In a world where everyone needs to eat, fertile soil made anywhere you need it… is one powerful answer to a lot of serious questions. That’s some of what we learned in our intensive vermiculture training during the Food Pathways Workshop that took place at Growing Power Community Food Center (5500 W. Silver Spring Dr.) from September 24 to 26. We built a worm bin, including repairing the meant-to-be-leaky structure. We made our layers of nitrogens and carbons. We dug and toted the compost. We gave our worms lots of good stuff to eat and then tucked them in, a little wet, as they like it, to do their magic. You can do it on a shoestring. Start small or start large. You can do it for your farm, your garden, your community’s garden, with the tots on the tot lot. You can start in your basement if it fits your needs, or on that hunk of unused land. It’s revolutionary! Collect the drippings from under your wormbin and you have a fertilizer so wonderful and naturally insect repellant that it sells for $5 a gallon. Brew your own “tea” from your worms’ product, called castings, and make this potent fertilizer. Everything is organic and the plants grow like crazy! Growing Power includes another system in its larger growing system, aquaponics. Potted plants resting in water that goes through pools where fish grow is covered in another workshop. This Food Pathways workshop was attended by an amazing group of individuals, mostly small farmers, from both Carolinas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin. There were: Mr. Steve, who’s looking to use his former tobacco fields for new crops; Ms. Gwyn, who returned to North Carolina to bring the family farm back into production after retiring as a school principal in New Jersey; Mr. Jeff, with his 100 hogs and 200 acres in Tennessee; Hank and Morgan from the Navajo reservation in Arizona, whose heartstrings are attached to feeding the people nutritiously; Joel and Adela with their successful organic farm in Illinois, there to impart knowledge of biodynamic farming; Ms. Helen, a former teacher, whose farm in Phoenix had been of no interest to her until she headed up to Growing Power; and many more. Those participants who were not farmers or “wanna-be’s” were somehow involved with agriculture. In addition to the hands-on education in vermiculture and building growing beds, the workshop included information about marketing, the storage and transportation of crops, grant-writing (small farmers need all the help they can get), registering to be certified organic, and varying crop times to answer demand. Many of the farmers hope to become a part of the Rainbow Cooperative, begun by Will Allen and local farmers, with the idea of bringing their southern grown vegetables and fruit to the northern market, as well as helping to fill those fresh produce baskets offered by Growing Power year round. The workshop’s meals were a sumptuous wonder of just-picked organic vegetables and organically grown meats. To Will Allen, director of Growing Power, it’s all about eating nutritiously! The ills of this world will be reduced dramatically when everyone is eating well. And getting started is easier than you think. Will doesn’t sell the worms. But if you have the need, with a wink, you’ve got some. For more info, call Growing Power at 527-1546or visit