Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Eat Your Greens"

A trip away from the garden down to Montgomery brought me to the "EcoMax Sustainable Living Exhibition at Hampstead Farms." Founded as an educational initiative by a local credit union to inform the River Region about sustainable living solutions, the event featured seminars and demonstrations advancing the ideas of urban farming, healthy and local food sourcing, and walkable communities. The city of Montgomery Tree Committee, Clean City Commission, and Alabama Clean Water Partnership were on hand as well to showcase the implementation of more “green” policies for the city as well as exciting plans for a cypress park connecting to the Alabama River downtown. Before the event was rained out today I was able to attend several thought provoking presentations.

First, Rand Merijanian from Dancing Bee Honey was on-site to talk about the fact that no garden is successful without honeybees to provide pollination services. Through an intricate and effortful process, bees are able to produce the only substance produced by insects that is fit for human consumption all the while functioning as a necessary link in the life cycles of many plants that we consume. I was able to learn about the schematics of a beehive and the rigors of beekeeping all while contemplating how bees spend their lives (around 28 days) working so that we may thankfully enjoy the wonderful fruits and side effects of their labor. Second, Robert Cope from Montgomery’s Cypress Pond Park Project enlightened me as to the tremendous ecological diversity that will be preserved in a 260-acre educational and recreational opportunity serving the River region’s citizens and guests. This park will serve to promote the conservation and preservation of natural resources while supporting the economic revitalization of downtown Montgomery.
(The proposed plan for the cypress park connects to the existing Amphitheater via a boardwalk and will highlight the vitality and natural beauty of a natural cypress swamp.)

(Janet Johnson and her assistant from the Alabama Cooperative Extension give instruction regarding the preservation of food and its advantages over buying out of season.)

(A copy of "Food Preservation in Alabama," a guide for safely preparing food for lengthy storage and later consumption.)

Finally, Janet Johnson from the Alabama Cooperative Extension Program presented a seminar entitled “Back to Basics: Learn How to Preserve the Food You Grow. As a means of both avoiding low quality, high-priced grocery store produce that has traveled thousands of miles and supporting the fresh fruits and veggies produced by local farmers, canning and preserving produce is a skill many often lack. I learned all about the tools and techniques required for canning, as well as the proper methods for dehydrating; all of which can be found in the extension’s book: Food Preservation in Alabama.

(Some delicious dried strawberries were available for sampling.)

(A view of a portion of Hampstead Farms, with its raised beds in the foreground.)

No comments: