FiveCAP hosts gardening workshop

BALDWIN — The thumbs of several Lake County residents are a little greener this week, as they picked up shovels and got their hands dirty.

FiveCAP held its annual garden workshop June 2 at the Lake County FiveCAP office in Baldwin. The workshop was led by several master gardeners and each attendee received a variety of vegetable plants to start their own garden. The organization said programs like this help fulfill an important part of their mission in the community.

"Growing your own food is an incredibly empowering experience," said FiveCAP Community Support Director Amy Jalocha. "One of the most important components of the services we provide to the community is teaching the tools for self sufficiency, and learning to garden is a basic skill that enables people to provide for their families in a very basic way."

The event was called a success by FiveCAP employees, and they said they believed a lot of good was done for the people of the Lake County community.

For many of the attendees, this was more than just a new hobby, but a way to help cut down on their food budget and make them more self-sufficient. Each received plants like green beans, tomatoes, green peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumber, broccoli, cabbage and onions to fill out their new garden (and eventually, their dinner table).

"Many of our clients are enrolled in food assistance programs, or receive food stamps," said Jalocha. "Their need puts them at the mercy of outside forces. In the last several years, we’ve seen drastic cuts to food stamps. With other programs, people receive the food they are given either at food pantries or through the provisions provided through our Commodity Supplemental Food Program or The Emergency Food Assistance Program. By growing a garden, our clients are able to claim control over what food they put on the table. They plant their food, tend it all season, harvest it and finally feed it to their family."

The master gardeners leading the workshops provided advice about how to grow each of these plants, and gave tips on how to get the best harvest out of each.

"The workshop is always helpful for new gardeners, as well as veterans who have been growing vegetables their whole lives," Jalocha said. "The master gardeners have access to the most current research, so they are constantly teaching us new ways to get the most out of our gardens."

FiveCAP also hosts a food preservation workshop which will be in the fall. Jalocha said Being able to preserve the food families have grown all summer allows them to reap the benefits of their hard work well beyond the growing season.

For more information contact FiveCAP at (231) 745-4617, or stop by the Lake County office.