Guest Expert Workshop: Starting Your Own Organic Garden

December 2nd, 2013

On Saturday, November 23, a diverse crowd filled the patio at the Azuero Earth Project offices to listen to talks from Ashley Stonecipher and Jairo Batista, the AEP’s organic gardening experts.

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Ms. Stonecipher delivers the day’s first talk on organic gardening c. Ryan Dibala

Ms. Stonecipher, who is in charge of developing the organic garden at the Plinio Moscoso School in Pedasí, started the day with a presentation delivered in English. Speaking in front of a diverse international crowd, Ms. Stonecipher laid out the basic steps for getting an organic garden up and running. Emphasizing the fact that there is no single model that will work for everyone, Ms. Stonecipher covered several of the most common techniques for building beds, improving soil, and repelling pests. See Ms. Stonecipher’s presentation in its entirety here.

Attendees then moved into the AEP’s experimental garden to see firsthand some of the vegetable and herbs that grow well on the Azuero. Attendees were given cuttings and seedlings to take home to their own gardens.

Mr. Batista shares his experiences with the crowd c. Ryan Dibala

Mr. Batista shares his experiences with the crowd c. Ryan Dibala

As Ms. Stonecipher’s pupils wandered the garden and asked plenty of questions, Mr. Jairo Batista led a second presentation for Spanish speakers. Local scout groups and gardening enthusiasts were treated to insights compiled over Mr. Batista’s year and a half of work with the experimental organic garden at the AEP offices. After the presentation, Mr. Batista also led his group on a tour of the garden, complete with a discussion of composting and explanations of some of the less common plants.

Afterwards, the two groups merged for a brief lesson on the preparation of organic insect repellents and compost tea, with Ms. Stonecipher explaining the process and Mr. Batista providing simultaneous translation to Spanish. The organic gardening duo demonstrated the preparation of a simple organic repellent made from onion, garlic, and hot peppers. They then closed the session with a brief explanation of compost tea, a liquid fertilizer that is easily prepared by steeping compost and manure in water for a number of days.

Participants look on as volunteers help prepare an organic insect repellent c. Ryan Dibala

Participants look on as volunteers help prepare an organic insect repellent c. Ryan Dibala

Attendees were eager to ask questions, hoping to apply some of Ms. Stonecipher and Mr. Batista’s techniques in their own gardens.

We hope to see lots of healthy and productive gardens in the area in the near future!

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