"We've had such a surge in gardening and food preservation [requests]," Bartow County Extension Coordinator Kathy Floyd said. "We've given out a lot of information ... to the public. This is just another way for us to get the information and the education out there to the people so that they have success in their efforts, so they are able to grow the food, have much more success with that, [and] have more food. Then I come along and help them with how to preserve it, whether they want to can it or freeze it or dry it. So, it's just another avenue to get the information out.
"We want to make them aware of all of the information that we have here at the office. They may be finished or wrapping up their garden, but there's things that are done year-round. They may be coming to the end of their food preservation season or they may have planted a fall garden and may have some more things that will come in later. So even though we're kind of at the [end of the] traditional what you might think of as gardening season, we still have a lot of things that will continue to come in until frost, like tomatoes and then if they've planned a fall garden. So they can still use this information, and then we also have information on planting for next year. So they can get ahead of the curve. If they have had some issues or questions or decide they want to go in a different direction or try something new next year, then we can help them as they make their plans for next year's garden."
To be offered at Cartersville's Downtown Farmers Market at Founders Oak Park along Public Square, the three seminars will include: UGA Home Lawn & Garden Resources from 8 to 8:30 a.m.; Ask a Master Gardener from 8:30 to 9 a.m.; and UGA Home Canning & Preserving Resources/Q&A from 9 to 9:30 a.m.
"Basically I'm just going to give an overview of resources available to home gardeners as far as vegetable gardens and home landscaping from the University of Georgia," said Bartow County Extension Agent Paul Pugliese, who will lead the first seminar. "So I'll go into some of the diagnostic services that we have available, such as soil testing, sampling for insects and diseases, and submitting samples for weed identification and that sort of thing, and what's the process for doing that through our office here. Those are just some of the basic services that we have to offer as a resource. Then I'll go into some of the references we have [such as] fact sheets and publications and information that's available to homeowners that a lot of folks don't realize is out there.
"A lot of that information is specific to growing vegetables or landscaping right here in Georgia or specific to Bartow County even. So it's a good resource. It's good, unbiased information. ... Then the [next seminar] is an Ask a Master Gardener session. That's where we'll have an information booth set up with some of our master gardener volunteers that work through our extension office here. They'll be able to answer any questions that folks might have about lawns or gardens and if folks want to bring samples that day, we can try to troubleshoot them right there on the spot and give you [a] recommendation on how to deal with those problems."
In the final seminar, Floyd will reveal the extension office's resources regarding food preservation, followed by a discussion on the equipment it requires.
"I'll look at the two kinds of canners [and] look at the different methods of preservation very quickly because it's a short seminar," Floyd said. "A lot of people have a fear of pressure canners, so [I hope to] ease somebody's mind about that and reassure them about the proper usage of that. [Then I will] touch just briefly on freezing and drying and then show them equipment they need for those kinds of things.
"Then there will be a short question and answer [session] and I will have the pressure canner tester at the seminar. So if someone wants to bring a dial gauge pressure canner and have me test the gauge, I can do that while they're there."
Along with dispersing information at the seminars, Pugliese hopes the offering will help area residents check out the farmers market. Started in the early 1980s by the late Walter Culverhouse, who was a Bartow County Extension Agent, the Downtown Farmers Market's original purpose was having a venue for local farmers to sell excess produce. The market operates Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer, opening about 7 a.m. and closing about noon or when the farmers sell all of their produce.
"I think a lot of folks in the community unfortunately miss that opportunity," he said. "They might not even be aware that there is a farmers market that's active here in Cartersville, and this is hopefully a good way that we can publicize that and bring people back to the market and maybe vendors back to the market too if we get enough people as far as regular clients out there.
"We're not running the market. The extension office isn't in charge of that. ... We're just helping promote it basically. It's all about buying Bartow and buying locally grown [produce]."
Individuals interested in attending the seminars are encouraged to pre-register by calling 770-387-5142 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.