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A Beginner’s Perspective of Dig Deep: A Conference for Growers

By Lexy Vorhies
Volunteer Blogger, Tarrant Area Food Bank

On July 22, I attended Tarrant Area Food Bank’s annual gardening conference. Before attending the event, I’d only read about gardening and watched HGTV. My mom and grandmother, on the other hand, have taken gardening up as a hobby. They are currently growing organic vegetables in my own backyard.

From the moment I walked in to Dig Deep: A Conference for Growers, I was greeted by smiling faces. The all-day event took place at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.

The conference kicked off with a tour of the center’s Community Garden and a welcome address from TAFB Associate Executive Director Bennett Cepak. Guests could attend multiple sessions throughout the day. You could learn everything from how to farm in sustainable ways to how to design agricultural ecosystems that are self-sufficient.

Breakout Sessions Give Lessons for Growing Gardens

Throughout the conference, I learned a lot from the experienced presenters. One of the sessions focused on how to grow enough food for your family. Others were on community gardening, mobile markets, entrepreneur gardening and more. My favorite was the session about irrigation systems where I learned about water requirements for growing a garden at home.

Dr. Dotty Woodson of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension led the session. Dr. Woodson shared that gardens with seeds that have just been planted may have different watering needs than other types of gardens. She also talked about the difference between designing irrigation systems for school programs versus systems for the home. The best part about this session was being able to hold cut up garden hoses that showed exactly where the holes are meant to be for effective irrigation. I also loved that we could ask questions during a Q &A with the presenter.

Permaculture Lesson and Organic Farming

I also attended the Intro to Permaculture session, which had to do with designing sustainable ecosystems that helped maintain healthier gardens and improve the environment.

During the lunch break, guests received fresh vegetables and fruit that had been picked the day before from the TAFB Learning Garden and Kindred Spirits Kitchen Garden.

Annual gardening conference food

In the main conference room, attendees heard from Howard Garrett, who is also known as the Dirt Doctor. He taught us about which insects are beneficial for a garden and which are harmful to your garden. He also gave tips on how to use natural methods, as opposed to commercial sprays that are toxic, for pest control.

Ultimately, I learned that using organic methods to get rid of pests is better for your garden. Using “good bugs” can help build a healthier garden than using synthetic fertilizers.

Beginners and Professionals Learn Useful Skills at Conference

Dig Deep: A Conference for Growers attracted novices and gardening professionals from all over the Metroplex because of the wide variety of information. Some attendees found out about the conference from sources like social media and the TAFB website. The event intrigued guests to sign up with the hopes of becoming better gardeners for themselves and for the planet. Jane Schmidt, a regular volunteer at TAFB said she found the conference very helpful. “There’s a large spectrum of information and people seem very passionate about what they are doing.”

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about how to become a more efficient gardener. This conference was very interesting to attend as a beginning grower, like me. There were so many people there willing to answer any question you had. I received useful tips for how to be successful in growing healthy fruits and vegetables wherever I am—whether it’s in my backyard or in my dorm. I’m excited to share what I learned with my family and friends.

To find out more information about how to go to another one of TAFB’s upcoming awesome events, visit Eventbrite. I can promise you will not regret attending.