Free Workshops on Growing Pecan Trees, Constructing Rain Barrels, Growing Heirloom Flowers, and Seed Saving!

Photo by Saira Khan for McElroy House

Photo by Saira Khan for McElroy House

Join is THIS Saturday April 4th beginning at 9:00 a.m. Freedom House staff and residents, organizers from the McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources, and community volunteers will host a work and learning day at the Freedom House Garden.

Click here to RSVP/Share on facebook! 

Schedule of Events:

9:00-12:00 Volunteer in the Garden.

Join residents, volunteers, and Arkansas Tech Students in helping to clean out the flower beds where the butterfly and bee attracting gardens will be placed.

9:00-10:00 Rainwater Catchment Workshop with Stu Bradford

Are you interested in harvesting rainwater in your home or business? Stu Bradford and his son build their own rain water reclamation system at home to irrigate the garden and lawn using 55 gallon plastic barrels with pump and sprinklers. They reclaim 1,000 gallons per year, and plan to expand to 1,500 this spring. They currently build single and multiple unit reclamation systems for home and farm for folks around Arkansas. During this workshop you’ll learn how you can start reclaiming rainwater in your home.

10:00–11:00 Pecan Tree Workshop with Josh Hardin

Do you have backyard pecan trees or want to start growing pecan trees? Join Josh Hardin to learn more about how to ensure your pecans are healthy and capable of high yields. Josh Hardin is a fifth generation vegetable farmer from Grady, AR who operates Laughing Stock Farms, a certified organic fruit and vegetable farm near Sheridan. He holds a certificate in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems from the University of California at Santa Cruz and is also completing a degree in Agricultural Education from University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Throughout the season, Laughing Stock grows over 40 varieties of vegetables utilizing sustainable growing methods and organic amendments to produce high quality organic produce for local restaurants and farmers markets.

11:00-12:00 Heirloom Flower Gardening/Attracting Butterflies and Bees with Debe Hudson

Learn how to attract butterflies and bees to your garden with heirloom flowers and herbs! Debe Hudson of ABC Greenhouse and Herb Farm will talk about the numerous varieties and give tips for growing these options in your home garden.

12:00-1:00 Seed Saving with ROOST (Revitalizing Ozark-Ouchita Seed Traditions)
ROOST is a project dedicated to protecting and implementing the diversity of heirloom seed varieties, agricultural folkways, knowledge, and practices throughout the Ozark-Ouchita bioregion. Join members from ROOST as they show you how to save tomato seeds each year! They’ll also discuss local seed traditions, the importance of seed saving, and how to get involved saving seed at home.

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More on the Freedom House Gardens:
The gardens will include custom-built raised beds for berries and a network of container gardens for heirloom vegetables. The gardens will make use of preexisting flower beds in front of the dorms and counseling offices where colorful heirloom, butterfly and bee-attracting flowers will be planted. These will include both native plant perennials and annuals grown from seed by Freedom House residents. The gardens will be tended to by Freedom House residents and volunteers and will be incorporated in the daily activities of the center.

The gardens will serve as ongoing teaching tools for Freedom House residents, incorporating the preexisting gardening skills of many residents while also offering hands on experience with gardening for Freedom House residents, staff, and in the larger community. The flower beds will be filled with plants known to support our depleting butterfly and bee populations, encouraging not only beauty but also supporting the pollinators we need for global plant health. The flower gardens will also offer place of beauty to explore ideas surrounding grief and healing in all its forms.

Residents and community members alike have specifically asked for container gardens, which work well for people who may not have access to tillers, own their land, or live in apartments. Residents will experiment with a variety of donated containers, all of which will serves as working examples of how food can be grown in even the smallest of spaces.

Blueberries are known for their health benefits, are easy to maintain and benefit from pine needles, which are abundant at Freedom House’s space. ABC Greenhouse and Herb Farm has donated regionally grown blueberry plants as well as heirloom flowers. McElroy House will work with experienced gardeners to install easy to use drip irrigation systems for the berries to decrease water usage and experiment with other water harvesting options, ensuring the garden space is a place to think holistically about resource usage. The pre-existing pecan trees on site will also be incorporated into the larger garden plans.

Counselors will integrate the gardens into their sessions and residents will be encouraged to use the space in creative ways, focusing on how such resources can be of use after they leave Freedom House.
The McElroy House will offer community wide workshops and interactive media resources focusing on the gardens for residents of Freedom House and the larger community alike. The gardens will serve as both literal and metaphorical spaces to come together to build locally-based and community-led solutions around larger issues of poverty, access to resources, wellness, and cross-cultural understanding and unity.

Community members are encouraged to attend the groundbreaking and/or donate heirloom seeds and plants passed down in their families, helping populate the garden with plants that are deeply connected to the land and people of this region. The Seeds of Change Garden Project is a partnership of The McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources and ARVAC and Freedom House and will work to invigorate and re-envision ARVAC’s Garden Project, a program distributing free garden seeds within their nine county service region.

Want to know more about the Freedom House Garden? Click here. 

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