Extension gardening course fosters self-sufficiency

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Participants in the Seed to Supper classes improve their diets with fresh vegetables. (Photo: Hannah O'Leary)

Seed to Supper program stretches limited food budgets

Unemployment and the increasing cost of living are forcing more Oregonians to seek food assistance. For the third year in a row, the Oregon Food Bank distributed more than a million emergency food boxes – an increase of 41 percent since 2008.

To help people stretch their limited budgets, the OSU Extension Service and the Oregon Food Bank launched the Seed to Supper program, a free, five-week gardening course in English and Spanish that enables novice gardeners to affordably grow some of their own food. Extension-trained Master Gardeners teach participants where to get free and reduced-cost soil, compost, seeds, starts, trellis materials, mulch, tools, garden space and OSU Extension gardening publications.

More than 50 trainings attended by over 800 participants have taken place since 2013. The program is offered in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Linn and Benton counties. Classes have taken place in locations that include Portland, Corvallis, Philomath, Lebanon, Monroe and Sweet Home. The program will be offered in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties in 2015.

"This class has inspired me to garden more. It broadened what I felt I could grow. It will greatly improve our diet and the variety of foods available, as my husband is retired and I am unemployed," said one Seed to Supper participant.

Source: Pukhraj Deol, OSU Extension horticulturist

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