Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bees & Gardens

I drove to my old hometown Friday evening, to attend a workshop on veggie growing for beginners. While I don't consider myself a brand new gardener, I still consider myself relatively inexperienced. Besides, I read that they would focus on a select group of vegetables, one of which was onions. Getting to know onions and to have a deep and everlasting relationship with them just happens to be my new years resolution. So off I went.

It was an informative evening, just not in the way I expected. It was more of a lecture series than a workshop; they had three guest speakers who spoke about soil preparation, seeds and succession planting. I did learn a thing or two, like whether I like it or not, if I want onions, I need to start them indoors. I had unsuccessful results transferring my onion seedlings last year and I was hoping I could take the other fork in the road this year. It appears that fate has other plans for me.

However, what I really found interesting was the reason for this public meeting. Our old hometown has joined a growing movement, called Towns in Transition, a movement that originates in England and is growing in Canada. There are over a dozen communities of various sizes, including some large cities across the country, that have joined up. Towns in transition is a group that is working to reduce their communities' dependence on oil and to become more resilient and independent. For this town, one of their first areas of focus is food supply. Should there be an oil crisis, the availability of food from a far off land will either be unattainable or at the very least unaffordable. Their efforts are to relearn the basic skills lost over the last few generations, skills from growing your own food to canning and storing food for the winter. They're also focusing on utilizing their good fortune of having a vast array of locally grown food in their own backyard. This town is literally cradled by a protected greenbelt, and if you had to live off what was produced there, you could do worse, much worse. The old farmhouse is in that greenbelt and over the last year I've come to appreciate just how much is produced here. I know that while I may not have conquered onions yet, and even if it takes me a few years, I know that I can still find them fresh...and local.

Thursday night found me at another meeting, the local beekeepers association held their first meeting of the year. It, too, was informative, but certainly not what I was expecting. I've been reading Marina Marchese's 'Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper'. Her first beekeepers meeting set the bar pretty high and while my group was friendly it was a little disjointed for those who were attending for the first time. Unlike Marina's meeting, there was no raffle for beekeeping equipment, no honey swap or honey samples to try but rather there were elections for the 2010 executive, a lot of socializing as the group hadn't met since November and a lot of discussion on topics ranging from the size of a white board to whether it was necessary to purchase a microphone. There certainly wasn't the plethora of information for someone who knows nothing about beekeeping that I was expecting. If I stick around, which I think I will, as they do have some interesting guest speakers lined up over the coming months, I may offer up some suggestions, once I have a little experience under my belt to offer to a 'newbee' like myself someday.

It wasn't all bad; I received recommendations on where to buy my beekeeping equipment and thanks to some advice I've sourced out my hive supplier and will put my order in this week. There are two groups holding courses this spring that both came highly recommended, they're hands on and teach all the basics however one is already full and the other has a waiting list. I've been mulling things over the last few days. Do I want to go into this with the chance that I may not have any formal training? Should I wait until next year? Can I really do this, now? I think I can. There are lots of resources online, hopefully I'll learn more at future beekeeping meetings and I've been reading anything I can get my soon to be stung hands on. I moved to the country to do things, not to sit around and wait to do it someday. Someday may never come.

For a shy gal from the city, I've ventured off to two meetings on my own, removing myself far from my comfort zone. If I can do that, certainly, I can figure out how to keep a hive of bees alive and buzzing. See what moving to the country has done to me? Who knows where this could lead.

~Be well friends ~


~from my front porch in the mountains~ said...

I know you can! How exciting, Andrea!!
You are going to become an onion loving, bee-keepin' farmer lady who wears funny lookin' hats!
That's my friend, Andrea!

xo, misha

p.s. i have a lota funny looking hats!

ain't for city gals said...

Good for you!!! I need to do the same thing...People don't realize how dependent we are on oil for our food and week of disruptive transportation and a lot of people would be in trouble. I read once that if you take required medicine you should always have a 3 month supply on hand since most of it comes from overseas now...good post

Mary, Windy Meadows Farm said...

Ahhh, another onion-loving country girl...what a fun read this morning! We start our onion sets outdoors in cold frames my husband built, so no need to begin them indoors. Also, after trying to weed them in them in the garden, I was about to give up, but weeding in the cold frames is a breeze! You get a jump on the weather too...maybe an option for you?

Cheryl said...

You are a brave girl sounds fun though, good luck with your bees and onions!