2009-03-19 / Local & State

Residents Urged To Take Up Gardening

County issues statement in light of state of economy
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

The current state of the economy was a hot topic at the monthly meeting of the Fulton County Partnership Tuesday, prompting the Fulton County commissioners and several partnering agencies to take a long, hard look at economic disaster planning and the need for residents to have a self-sufficient food source.

In conjunction with the county Emergency Management Agency, Conservation District and Penn State Extension Office, the commissioners reported this week the Local Emergency Planning Committee has recently begun investigating economic disaster planning as a result of its pandemic flu-planning efforts.

"A part of preparing for any severe economic downturn is having a substantial supply of food on hand," said the commissioners. "Even better is being somewhat self-sufficient when it comes to a food supply."

The commissioners followed up on their issued statement by encouraging area residents to consider planting a garden or expand upon an existing garden plot. In fact, recent statistics show that an estimated 75 million people will take up gardening in 2009.

Many of those individuals are interested in growing their own food to offset dwindling budgets. Even people who don't have access to a huge lawn can utilize large pots as a means of growing a few tomatoes or peppers or can join together with neighbors to plant and harvest a small community plot.

According to extension office Director Lori Hansroth, in hopes of educating first-time gardeners and the general public as a whole, the extension office will be kicking off a series of gardening related courses starting in early spring and running through the summer months.

Hansroth noted the Fulton County Master Gardeners are slated to staff the Extension Garden Hotline in early April to answer any questions on gardening as well as plant and insect identification. Free gardening publications and some forsale publications are also available at the extension office. Soil kits are available for a nominal fee.

A free composting/gardening workshop has been scheduled for early May, Hansroth said. If enough interest exists, additional home gardening how-to workshops will be conducted. Two free workshops will also be held during the early summer months to instruct participants on the ins and outs of preserving food from the garden.

Hansroth added the extension office, located in the old IGA building in McConnellsburg, does offer pressure canner testing. Canners can be dropped off at the office and up to two weeks should be allowed for the testing to be completed.

Even a very limited number of plants can yield big numbers when looking at pounds of plants produced. With that in mind, the commissioners remind residents that any extra produce grown beyond what a family can use or store can be donated to the Fulton County Food Basket, which has seen a big increase in numbers of people seeking assistance in recent months.

Residents wishing to be informed of upcoming workshops or anyone having suggestions for workshop topics are urged to contact the extension office at 717-485-4111. In addition, anyone needing more information on emergency preparedness can visit the Pennsylvania Emergency Preparedness Guide found on the county's Web site at www.co.fulton.pa.us or contact Fulton County EMA at 717- 485-3201.

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