MILLS RIVER, N.C. — Since the coronavirus pandemic arrived this year, threatening Americans’ economic and food security, people are growing gardens like no other time in recent history. From first-time gardeners to experienced green-thumbs, many suddenly found themselves at home and turned their attention to nearby patches of land in search of food sovereignty (or maybe just the perfect heirloom tomato). One key element to success is supportive education, especially from seasoned local growers.
Patryk Battle is a veteran gardener and farmer, currently the Director of Living Web Farms, an education and research non profit focused on food systems near Asheville, NC. He is a source of abundant information and wisdom on gardening and farming, and for the last four years has taught workshops at Living Web Farms focused on the main crop families found in the average backyard or market garden.
“Last year we did Cucurbits like squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins. The previous year we did Allium crops like onion and garlic, and the year before that we did Brassicas like kale and broccoli,” Battle states. It’s a handy way to deliver gardening information, since most vegetable crops require specific conditions, treatment, and other considerations based on their botanical family. On June 20th , Battle will teach the fourth workshop in the crop family series, covering the Legume family Fabaceae, which includes beans, peas, groundcovers, shrubs and even trees.
In this workshop, participants will learn to know and use legumes for food, fertility and biodiversity. “Because of their symbiotic relationship with rhizobial bacteria, legumes can help us to access the incredible resource of atmospheric nitrogen and therefore play a critical role in any regenerative fertility program,” Battle says. “This ability also makes them star biomass producers, and therefore essential components of any no-till farming system.”
These plants are a major source of high-quality plant protein, minerals, complex carbohydrates and other essential nutrients. Many important herbal medicines are legumes. There are legumes that thrive in every season. They are key components in permaculture, forest farming and silvopasture systems.
This class will focus most thoroughly on annual legumes; however, the many perennials used in farmscaping, permaculture, and agroforestry will be introduced, with resources offered for further learning. For the annual legumes that will be the main focus of this presentation, subjects covered will include how we can use them in our gardens and on our farms to feed ourselves, our livestock, our soil, and the insects our crops depend on. Patryk Battle will take you through a detailed study of these annual legumes, including history of their use, best plants for the modern farmer, culture, pest and disease information, harvest, human use, and even cooking!
–Patryk Battle, Living Web Farms