Cameron University partners with Lawton Farmers Market Institute to present free weekly classes

The Cameron University Department of Agriculture and Biological Sciences is partnering with the Lawton Farmers Market Institute to present a series of free classes aimed at encouraging community members to grow their own fruits, vegetables and flowers. Classes will take place in the CU Plant Science Building (located on 38th Street south of Elsie Hamm Drive) at 9 a.m. each Saturday. Classes are expected to last approximately two hours.

The classes will kick off on Saturday, February 11, with “Seed Planting and Tomato Planting” presented by Nealis Bradshaw.  Participants will learn about seed starting and will actually start seeds. Soil, containers and seeds will be provided. The seedlings will be tended in the CU Plant Sciences greenhouse by Cameron students. Participants will be able to check on their seedlings each Saturday until they are ready to be planted. Bradshaw is an area farmer, gardener and grower. A retired science teacher, Bradshaw has been growing fruits and vegetables for more than 30 years. He is one of the founding members of the Southwest Growers Association and is a regular vendor at the Lawton Farmers Market.

On Saturday, February 18, Billy Penick will present “Soil and Garden Preparation,” which will aid participants in getting their gardens primed for optimal performance during the growing season. Appropriate soil preparation is critical for proper growth, and can be tailored to specific crops. Things to consider are the soil’s natural acidity or alkalinity, how much sand is in the soil, and what types of organic matter can be added to make the soil ready for your chosen plants. Penick, a long-time gardener and grower, is the owner of B&H Pecans of Meers and also grows tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables. One of the founders of the Southwest Growers Association, he has had a presence at the Lawton Farmers Market for more than 10 years.

On Saturday, February 25, Greta Meisner, Comanche County Extension Educator for Agriculture and 4-H Youth Development, will present “Raised Beds and Container Gardening.” She teaches master gardener classes throughout Comanche and Stephens counties. Raised bed and container gardens are ideal for growing small plots of flowers and vegetables. They help minimize weeds, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage and serve as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails. They are also suited for individuals with physical issues, as they can be tailored to any desired height. Container gardens are particularly family friendly and serve as a great introduction to gardening for children. Due to their portability, container gardens can be easily moved to protect them from harsh weather.

March classes are being finalized now. Preliminary topics include raising backyard chickens, home canning, and growing microgreens.

For more information or to suggest a topic, contact Cathy Field, Lawton Farmers Market Institute, at lawtonfarmersmarket@yahoo.com or through the organization’s Facebook page. 

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February 7, 2017