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Grow It Eat It! is the fresh new green campaign available in Harford County being rolled out as a joint effort between Cooperative Extension and the Home and Garden Information Center at the University of Maryland.

The purpose is to address the growing need of Marylanders to learn how to start and maintain a successful food garden. Whether it is starting a few plants in a patio container, a large backyard vegetable bed or a community garden patch the Extension Master Gardeners are eager to help. The Grow It Eat It! vision is one million Maryland food gardeners producing their own affordable, healthy food.

Food gardening can help you save money on fresh, safe, and healthy food. Vegetable flavor is improved when vegetables are allowed to ripen on the plant, as opposed to market vegetables picked prior to ripening. Food quality improves when the shipping process is eliminated. Plus, gardening is an opportunity to get the family outside working together. Ask any gardener — nothing can compare to preparing a tasty meal for your family with food you grow yourself. You need as little as a five-gallon bucket, a sunny corner on the porch and a nearby water source.

Harford County Master Gardeners will be teaching a series of four gardening Grow It Eat It! classes at the following libraries in March and April: Joppa, Edgewood, Abingdon and Havre de Grace. Check the library Web site at www.hcplonline.info for details and preregistration. Half-day garden seminars will be taught at the Forest Hill Extension Office, Harford Glen, Harford Community College and the Ripken Stadium. Dates and times will be printed in the Aegis Calendar of Events and on the Web site harford.umd.edu.

Vegetable demonstration Grow It Eat It! gardens will be on display at the Forest Hill Extension Office, Harford Glen and the Ripken Stadium. These gardens will be a joint effort between the Master Gardeners, local sponsors, and youth organizations. Master Gardeners will assist with plant choice, compatibility and garden layout. Three youth organizations will participate in the seed sowing process through harvest. The 4-H Horticulture Team in Forest Hill will serve at the Extension garden site. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County will be the planter-harvesters at the Ripken project. Fifth-graders at Harford Glen will be digging in at their school gardening site.

If advice is all you need then “Ask a Master Gardener.” Volunteers will be available for home and garden questions at the Forest Hill Cooperative Extension Office on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning in May. They are also available weekly at the Bel Air Farmers Market and the second Saturday monthly at the Bel Air Library.

A Grow It Eat It! consulting team is available in Harford County to help nonprofit organizations begin food gardening at their own community site. The Master Gardeners will make design suggestions and plant recommendations to diversify your menu. And as the state Grow It Eat It! network develops, recipes for cooking from the garden will be made available.

Are you interested in becoming a Master Gardener? The University of Maryland offers this training annually in each county for the purpose of educating gardeners to educate their communities about effective, sustainable horticultural practices in the landscape. Harford County training classes begin March 4 from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. The 50-hour class will continue each Wednesday through May 6.

For more information on any of these programs, call the Harford County Cooperative Extension Office at 410-638-3255.


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