WILLIAMSON — The Williamson Redevelopment Authority, in conjunction with the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition, hosted a two-day permaculture workshop this past weekend at the Mingo County Orchard and Williamson Community gardens.
It all started at noon on Friday, March 29, where around 30 people gathered at the Mingo County Orchard to learn techniques from permaculture designers of the We Are All Farmers Permaculture Institute, a registered North Carolina non-profit. And on Saturday, more than 30 people crowded around the community gardens in East Williamson at 9 a.m.
Permaculture is a branch of ecological design and engineering, and environmental design, which helps develop sustainable architectures and self-maintained horticultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.
These workshops — according to a release from Maria Arnot, with the Williamson Redevelopment Authority — marked “the first time this worldwide and renowned methodology has bee taught in the West Virginia coalfields.”
Crystal Cook, co-founder of the We Are All Farmers Permaculture Institute said that the most important part of permaculture workshops was that “they focus on low-cost, relatively easy things to do that a person, or a small group, can do on any kind of plot, suburban, urban, or farm, to jumpstart growing food without the need for expensive equipment or chemicals.”
Ingrid Curry, a local landscape architect who was present Saturday, said that she thoroughly enjoyed the workshop.
“There’s nothing like hands-on learning and we were given several opportunities to get our hands busy,” Curry said. “The presenters were generous with time and information and encouragement. It was just good to be with fellow farmers and gardeners, sharing experience and enthusiasm.”
Participants from across the Tug Valley, as well as from all over the region, including representatives from as far as the Charleston area and even into North Carolina, came to learn about a variety of topics including rainwater catchment, vermaculture (using worms to compost), beautification using edible flowers and herbs, and how to build your own compost bin made from pallets.
Pat Poole, a Professor of Business at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, was also in attendance Saturday.
“The permaculture workshop was full of fun and useful information on how to become a better gardener,” Poole said. “I learned some new garden strategies on how to use ‘waste brush,’ plants and weeds to build my soil as well as some new gardening terms such as sheet mulching and keyhole garden bed.”
The workshop was held as part of the 2013 Agriculture Workshop series, which hosts events at both the Mingo County orchard and community gardens. For more information on future workshops, check out the Williamson Farmers Market on Facebook, or contact Maria Arnot at 304-235-3400.
“It was really fun putting our new knowledge into action by actually creating a keyhole garden and helping to build a compost bin,” Poole said. “The workshop was definitely well worth my time!”