And a bit of patience.
About 30 to 40 gardeners of varying skill levels shook off the cold weather for a detailed class focusing on vegetable gardening Saturday morning at Mize Farm and Garden.
The class was taught by local master gardener Phil Ramey, and offered attendees the opportunity to learn valuable tips and ask questions about proper gardening techniques.
“People are a little more concerned about where their food is coming from,” said Martin Litz, who works at Mize Farm and Garden and organizes the classes.
Litz said the proliferation of genetically modified seeds and plants has made people more interested in organic, natural gardening practices, potentially leading to a recent increase in attendance at the store’s seminars.
“People aren’t into the GMO stuff,” Litz said. “They’re figuring out that, if they do it themselves, they know what they’re getting.”
Ramey has seen a similar pattern among consumers, with many of them expressing concern about the origin of their food.
“More food is being imported,” Ramey said. “(People) don’t know what kind of conditions it’s being grown in. They don’t know what has been used to grow that plant.”
Previously, the store drew a relatively modest crowd to its seminars, but a recent uptick in participation has inspired Litz and his coworkers to consider continuing classes in the fall, something they were initially thinking about ending.
“Since we’ve had the turnout like we have,” Litz said, “we may try some classes this fall to see what’s going on.”
Brenda Bailey and her daughter Mariah Davis are from Blountville and attended the seminar Saturday to continue expanding their home garden, an activity that fell by the wayside when Bailey went through a health crisis several years ago.
Now Bailey and Davis are looking for ways to improve the quality of their crops and have discovered several handy gardening tips throughout the years, including one that suggested planting potatoes in stacks of tires.
“Those potatoes were as slick as this chair when I pulled them out,” Bailey said, gesturing to the chair she had been sitting in during the seminar. “They were the prettiest potatoes.”
Davis and Bailey were looking for similar pieces of advice during the seminar today, hoping to put in a few raised beds in the future.
“I’m ready,” Bailey said. “I’m about to go over here and get some onions.”
Litz said the store’s spring gardening seminars have also produced extra business, as many visitors who attend the seminars generally buy items afterward.
“They look at seed, they look at other gardening supplies and it helps our bottom line, too,” Litz said. “It gets people interested in gardening.”
While many of the people in attendance were experienced gardeners, Ramey said gardening is an easily accessible hobby.
“Anybody can be a gardener,” Ramey said. “You don’t have to have two left thumbs. ... Our forefathers did it for eons to survive, so it’s something that’s very available to do for everybody.”