The Ukiah Branch Library is sponsoring Urban Homesteading 101: Paths to Sustainability & Self-Reliance, an opportunity for local homesteaders to come together and share their knowledge and participate in six bimonthly hands-on workshops.
The workshops will be presented on the first Saturday of the month, on alternate months, starting Feb. 3 from 3 to 5:30 p.m., open to the public, free, for ages 12 and up.
The Yokayo Seed Project workshops will include: small vegetable garden spaces the Adaptation Gardening Way on Feb. 3 with Julie Dakin and Jen Lyon; small scale composting and worm bins with Jen Lyon on April 6; fermented foods and beverages for flavor and health with Mori Natura on June 1; acorn processing and indigenous foods with Lois Fluke, indigenous food chef on Aug. 3; pollinator gardens the no-till way and wildflower seed scatter with Carolyn Brown and Andrea Davis on Oct. 5; and sourdough bread making with Reza’s Breadery on Dec. 7.
“The hands-on workshops will focus on sustainability, self-reliance, how good it makes you feel to grow the food you consume, eat the bread or sauerkraut you make; how it gives you a sense of physical as well as emotional well-being,” says Jen Lyon, library technician/seed librarian.
“It’s a hands-on community opportunity. I like to see people get their hands dirty because they’re happy when their hands get dirty and they have fun. When you have fun doing something, that makes you want to do it again.”
Lyon explains that the goal of these workshops, as is the goal of the seed library at the Ukiah Library, is about food equity —removing educational and financial barriers to enable people to grow their own food and make good, healthy, high-quality food available for everybody.
Many people have small spaces in which to plant and the first workshop will focus on newer, more environmentally sound ways of small-scale gardening than have been adhered to in the past. Methods include raised beds, vertical gardens and selecting varieties that are smaller rather than growing bigger plants.
“There are many strategies people can use in smaller spaces.”
Julia Dakin, the co-founder of Going to Seed: Shifting Agriculture Towards Adaptation, Community and Diversity, will be co-teaching the first workshop with Lyon.
Dakin runs the Mendo Seedmobile, a community seed project, based primarily on the coast, for people to contribute and receive seeds. Her focus will be about how small gardens lend themselves to seed saving.
“When we buy seeds from far-away places, they struggle to survive. That’s how we’ve gotten into the mire of pesticides and chemicals that are required for non-native seed/plants to survive.
“Instead, we encourage people to save the seeds they grow, plant them the following year and allow the plants to adapt to their local environment.”
Common practice in the past has been to plant a seed, say, from an heirloom variety, and plant it the next year so that it will be exactly the same as the previous year. It requires isolation and restriction from cross pollination, a consistency once considered to be ideal.
“That might be effective for large scale farming but for small garden solutions, the adaptation method is far better,” says Dakin.
With adaptation, the plants cross pollinate and adapt to local growing conditions — soil, heat, cold, daylight periods — and thrive far better than if they were grown from seeds from outside sources. This method allows nature to have more of a role in the selection process.
“We’re moving away from purity and valuing diversity more, where you are in a long-term relationship with the seeds.
“I stress the community component; not everyone should be doing all their own seed saving in their own garden. Select for what you want, what you like, and share the seeds with your neighbors.
“Our goal is local seed independence. We hope people will go out with plans for how they can go forward with their gardens in 2024,” says Dakin.
Reservations are required. All materials provided. For more information, visit www.mendolibrary.org or contact the Ukiah Branch at 707-463-4490. The event is sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library and Mendocino County Library.