Local efforts to increase flexibility and independence in the process of growing our own food have encouraged the growing community in the Michiana area. Grass-roots efforts create more flexibility through chicken and bee ordinances, and home growers have opportunities to learn basic growing methods and to network with other growers.
Over the past three years, Unity Gardens has hosted a Growing Summit to stimulate networking among growers and showcase local resources, providing education to deepen the roots of knowledge about growing food.
The 2014 Growing Summit will be held on March 28-30, at Indiana University South Bend.
The very first Growing Summit in 2010, dubbed the “Organic Workshop” hosted about 45 attendees. That workshop evolved with added classes and the addition of vendors and information booths featuring local ‘green’ activities. The 2013 summit boasted more than 20 vendors and 200 attendees.
One of the highlights of the 2013 summit was the Urban Chicken class attended by families taking advantage of the new chicken ordinance. The popular class not only promoted food security but sparked enthusiasm for those learning how to care for live egg generators.
Other classes offer information about container gardens, composting, and honeybees—another ordinance to increase pollinators in the area by allowing city dwellers to maintain hives.
Both of these classes will be included in the 2014 Growing Summit, along with classes taught by Master Gardeners, area professors, and growing specialists who donate their time to share their knowledge to encourage sustainable growing. In addition to courses covering growing food and maintaining chickens and bees, the Growing Summit will include a significant focus on permaculture to educate growers about how to create an environment that benefits the animals and pollinators that promote food production.
Sara Stewart, Director, and Mitch Yaciw, Master Gardener and garden engineer at Unity Gardens, created the Growing Summit to promote healthy eating by growing our own food. The summit provides the knowledge and tools to assist in household food production. The event connects “systems of people working living together for the benefit of all- systems that will support each others growth. Growing food in this way, especially Unity Gardens, encourages everyone to protect their own health through healthier eating by making household food production easier and more accessible to everyone.”
The Growing Summit wraps up the indoor educational series provided by Unity Gardens. The series consists of more than 30 growing classes offered to adults and children. The summit provides additional classes for those who are new to gardening and those whose thumb is permanently stained green. The Growing Summit is a great chance for people to reconnect with nature and each other without the barrier of cost!
“The thing I value most about it the free part. It is another method of reducing health disparities by enabling everyone, regardless of income, to protect their own health.” Sara Stewart