Conversation with … Lynn Cassidy, Grand County gardener
April 21, 2008
What’s more “earthy” than growing one’s own vegetables in fertile soil?
Today, April 22, is Earth Day, and in celebration, we’d like to feature an individual in the county, Lynn Cassidy of Hot Sulphur Springs, who is working with others to lay the ground for community gardens throughout Grand County.
Cassidy is an avid gardener herself, and building community gardens are a way to give others a chance to reconnect with ” and care for “the Earth.
Q. What Earth Day lessons do you take to heart?
A. I think that we need to remember where our food comes from. It comes from the Earth. Whether we eat vegetables or meat, it can all be traced back to the plants that grow upon the Earth, nurtured by rain and sun. We need to take care of God’s gift of the Earth and remember to honor our connection to it.
Q. What are you doing for Earth Day?
A. I am spending the day with three groups of preschoolers at East Grand Preschool and at C Lazy U Preschool. Linda Troccoli and I planned a stimulating lesson for young learners, which is very hands-on and shows them how to use “Three Sister” planting with a sunflower, a sweet pea (the vegetable), and lettuce. The pea plant will be able to climb up the sunflower stalk and lettuce grows very well in the cool weather of Grand County. The “mini-greenhouses” the children will use were obtained from the CSU Extension program. Then they can care for their plants in the classroom until it is time to take it home. A month later, we will show them how to transplant each plant in their own backyard or into a pot.
Q. What sprouted the idea of Grand Community Gardens?
A. It was the need for people to learn to become more self-sufficient in growing their own food. It is such a delight to go out into your own garden and pick fresh lettuce, broccoli, carrots or chard to eat for dinner. It is also really great to be able to share ideas with other gardeners when you create a community garden. You can share the cost of dirt, water and lumber and learn to grow things together. It creates a greater sense of community.
Q. What got you interested in gardening?
A. I learned to garden when I was a child. My family lived in Denver until I was 12. We enjoyed raising vegetables and also had fruit trees in our backyard. When I moved to Grand County in 2000, I spent a great deal of time learning what perennial flowers would grow well here and made gardens at our business at North Shore Resort on Lake Granby. When we moved to Hot Sulphur Springs in 2004, I continued my hobby by planting in berms and growing a vegetable garden in a raised bed. My son, Kody, helped me plant vegetables and enjoyed eating fresh lettuce, spinach, potatoes and many other vegetables right from the home garden.
Q. What value does gardening bring to your life?
A. Gardening is a great way to get more grounded and connected to nature after spending hours on the phone or on the computer. I believe that many people can find a way to find greater balance by spending more time out of doors gardening. I love landscaping with high altitude natives. Plus, vegetables fresh from the garden tastes so great.
Q. What benefits do you see coming out of the Grand Community Gardens?
A. I anticipate that the Grand Community Gardens project will be a wonderful experience for anyone interested in eating fresh food or in creating a more beautiful environment. By establishing community gardens in every town in Grand County and by teaching homeowners and families about the vegetables, berries, herbs and flowers that can be grown in their own back yards in Grand County, we hope to create a more sustainable future. Others in Grand Community Gardens want to expand this idea to include bees and raising chickens and goats.
Q. What are the free gardening classes this spring and who can attend?
A. The classes that Grand Community Gardens are giving at the Ace Hardware stores and at Cold Springs Greenhouse during the month of May will be fundraisers to provide the basic knowledge of how to build raised beds, the most efficient way to grow vegetables, how to amend the soil, and how to nurture and grow a variety of successful vegetables, herbs, berries and flowers. The knowledge comes from experience gardening, the CSU extension program, “Colorado Master Gardener” program, which I recently completed, as well as the experience of Carol and Joe Morales, whose farm has been successfully growing vegetables and berries at 8,300 feet since 1944. After the initial series of beginning classes, which will be given for a donation to support the Grand Community Gardens, we will be offering additional gardening, harvesting, and food preservation classes throughout the summer and fall. These will be advertised through the newspaper and by e-mail lists of interested gardeners.