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Gardening Class Plants Seeds of Knowledge

The University of Iowa’s first ever gardening class began this semester, teaching 26 students the basic skills of how to grow a garden. 

The Lifetime Leisure Skills class began March 23 held at the UI Student Garden on the west campus. It covers a wide range of subjects, including soil preparation, mulching, planting, integrated pest management and garden monitoring.

 The class offered thought started at the suggestion of several UI Gardeners who wanted to have a formal class offering in gardening. Kain Kutz, now a graduate student, had been pushing to get the class going for more than eight months.

“I wanted to continue to have an impact once I left the UI Gardeners,” Kutz said. “Once you know how to garden, it’s a skill you can take with you your entire life.”

 The university asked Frederick Meyer, co-director of Backyard Abundance, a nonprofit organization focused on educating and helping the public create environmentally beneficial landscapes, to teach the class.

 Meyer says his class focuses on maintaining a small organic farm utilizing integrated pest management skills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), integrated pest management (IPM) is a system of pest control that limits the use of pesticides instead utilizing multiple control methods focusing on pest prevention.

20170420 garden class2While a working in the garden brisk April day, students said they enjoyed the class.

“I think it’s really cool the university offers classes like this,” Kaley Kantor, a senior health studies major, said. “There are a lot of students here with a real interest in this (gardening).”

 “I didn’t know half these plants could be planted,” added UI senior Bharabi Pandit.

The class meets once a week late Thursday afternoons. For one of the classes, Meyer asked the students to find various bugs, and critters, showing which ones are actually beneficial to the garden. Spiders are very good at trapping pests who may harm the plants, while worms assist in tilling the soil, he explained.

Meyer continued the class by digging a hole in the ground and showing the various levels of soil underground, showing the horizons of topsoil and subsoil, as well as the a top layer of soil is made up of living and decomposed materials.

Beginning Gardening (LLS:1690:0001) will also be offered this upcoming fall semester, with hopes of offering more advanced and intermediate classes in the future to help students who feel they already have a strong understanding of gardening.

Check out the UI Gardeners website and Facebook page to learn about more gardening opportunities.


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