Free compost party in Atlanta

The power of good soil can make the difference between a bumper crop of tomatoes and squash or the bumper crop of frustration comes with a lackluster veggie garden.

But learning how to compost is not only a good idea for a workshop, it’s also a reason to party.

That’s the idea behind the free “Healthy Soil, Healthy Community Festival,” an Atlanta event on Saturday Aug. 29 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. which will mix mini-compost classes with live music, meet fellow gardeners and enjoy freshly prepared food from local chefs.

“This event is a fantastic opportunity for beginning gardeners as well as experienced growers to learn something about soil health and to have a really fun evening,” said Becky Griffin, community and school garden coordinator for UGA Extension. The event will take place at Truly Living Well-Wheat Street Gardens, 75 Hilliard Street Northeast, Atlanta.

You can register at the following site www.soilfestival.eventbrite.com (or just show up).

The workshop is part of the “Healthy Soil, Healthy Community Initiative” to help Atlanta’s community gardens adopt better composting practices to improve metro Atlanta’s soil. The collaborative partners in this project include the following: the Food Well Alliance (in collaboration with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension), Atlanta Community Food Bank’s Community Gardens project, Terra Nova Compost Cooperative, Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture, Global Growers Network, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and Park Pride.

Keep an eye out for more workshops running through the end of October and will be held at several locations around Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties. A good way to keep up-to-date is by checking the web site www.foodwellalliance.org.

Improving soil practices is an opportunity to decrease plant pests and diseases, but gardeners often neglect composting, which is a much-needed step to improving soil, she said.

“[Gardeners] think it’s intimidating, so they shy away from it,” Griffin said. “They see the big bins; they know they have to turn it, and they know they need a mix of nitrogen and carbon sources. It just seems like too much … but once they take a basic class and see that it’s not as difficult as they thought, they are eager to try it.”

In addition to offering hands-on training, the Healthy Soil, Healthy Community workshop series will also shine a light on the ecosystem that is thriving underneath everyone’s feet. Soil is a living system that includes minerals, organic matter microbes, fungi, worms and more which make food production possible, she said.

For more information about UGA Extension’s community and school garden outreach program, visit

http://blog.extension.uga.edu/communitygardening/

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