The Cooperative Extension Service’s series of “Grow Your Own Groceries” online presentations will continue in 2022. The virtual classes connect Arkansans with agents’ expertise in growing, preparing, and preserving fruits and vegetables at home.

“We’ve had such a good response,” said Krista Quinn, agriculture agent with the Faulkner County Extension office, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “We get a lot of emails and sometimes even handwritten notes from people saying thank you. All the webinars are free, and I think it’s been filling a need. With the pandemic, we’ve got so many more people who are becoming interested in vegetable gardening or growing some kind of edibles in their home garden, so these programs really provide a lot of information about how to get started.”

During the last program year from October 2020 through September 2021, “Grow Your Own Groceries” hosted 21 live Zoom sessions, with over 8,500 registrants for the classes. Each registrant received an email following the program with a link to watch the recorded program and access to fact sheets and recipes. Many people opted to watch the recorded program rather than the live program.

Quinn added that the program provides information for gardeners of all types, skill levels, and with varying access to resources.

“Everybody has different resources,” Quinn said. “Whether people are growing in-ground, or in containers, or in raised beds, we try to give information on all of those.”

In each one-hour presentation, an agriculture agent or specialist will discuss the crop: how to select the right variety, how to grow it, and how to deal with common pests and problems. Then, a family and consumer science agent will discuss nutrition and food preservation and provide a cooking demonstration.

The first “Grow Your Own Groceries” class of 2022 will take place at noon on Thursday, Jan. 13, and the topic will be microgreens.

“The microgreens topic is fun because it’s an edible crop that people can grow indoors in the winter, or really any time of year,” Quinn said. “There’s not a lot of things that you can harvest in January.”

Last year, classes were offered on the first and third Thursday of each month, but as more in-person programming returns, Quinn said the webinars will now occur monthly.

While all dates and topics for this year’s series have not been finalized, Quinn said the classes will continue to focus primarily on single crops, with occasional presentations on more general topics. Quinn added that this year she hopes to offer a “Getting Started with Vegetable Gardening” session for beginners.

To register for the Grow Your Own Groceries: Microgreens presentation and get information about upcoming classes, visit https://www.uaex.uada.edu/grow-groceries. You can also view all upcoming gardening events at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/yard-garden/gardening -events-programs/

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