Urban Farmer Certification

Our educational objective for the Conservatory is simple: teach people, particularly children and young adults, how to grow their own food. In response, we started the Leslie Middle School Learning Garden to encourage students to explore the connection between the classroom and the natural environment. Now we are excited to debut our newest Conservatory program geared toward people in their 20s and 30s, the Urban Farmer Certification.

Developed in partnership with Friends of Salem Saturday Market and the OSU Master Gardener Program, the Urban Farmer Certification will allow you to learn valuable gardening skills while cultivating your own healthy, organic fruits and vegetables. With a monthly class taught by OSU-Extension Service Master Gardeners and local farmers, the course curriculum will include garden planning, seed starting, beneficial insects, composting, and chicken keeping, among others. Classes will include both a theoretical lesson and a hands-on component that takes place in our greenhouses and community garden. As a participant in the course, you may utilize a portion of the community garden for your own cultivation space. All participants will apply their acquired knowledge in their personal garden space in order to obtain the Urban Farmer Certificate.

Schedule: the last Saturday of the month, January-October 2011

Cost: $60
scholarships available and a 20% discount for FSSM members

Sign ups begin December 1st! Please call 503-315-1055 or email shannon@pringlecreek.com for more details or to sign up!


First snow!

The Leslie Middle School students' cold crops are happy and cozy in the Conservatory, and everything seems brighter with last night's dusting...


Morning walk

A couple photos from my walk in this morning, of the Guest Cottage and Fir Grove. So beautiful!


Chemical-Free Weed Control

Sustainable landscape management is an important value in our community. We were recently recognized as the first residential development to be Salmon-Safe certified, and as part of our commitment to protecting biological diversity we choose to eliminate and control invasive species using manual methods instead of herbicides.

Last weekend a group of Willamette University students participated in a creek restoration work party to tackle the Japanese knotweed growing along our stretch of Pringle Creek. Japanese knotweed is a highly invasive species that devastates natural riparian areas because it spreads rapidly and prevents the propagation of native species. Here's what the site looked like before our work party:

Our strategy for knotweed removal without chemical agents follows the guidelines devised by the King County Noxious Weed Control Program. The students carefully cut the stems close to the ground and dug up as much of the root system as possible.

The plant matter must be quarantined until it completely dies, and then we can compost it. After the students dug up the roots, we covered the site with overlapping thick canvas fabric and several yards of mulch to suppress any new growth. Here's what the site looks like after all their hard work:

We hope that our efforts will demonstrate the feasibility of herbicide-free eradication of invasive species. Japanese knotweed is a particularly resilient weed, and total eradication will likely take years of manual control. However, the hard labor is worth it because it means we will not cause further harm to the creek and surrounding riparian area. It's really easy to use an herbicide and consider the weeds "taken care of", but to consider the long term environmental impacts of weed control is a much more rewarding task.

Thanks to the Willamette University student volunteers! Also thanks to the City of Salem for their generous Watershed Protect and Preservation grant!


Fall photos

Some photos of colors around the neighborhood...