Marquette County Conservation District offers urban agriculture workshops

The Testle Corridor, a monarch butterfly waystation in downtown Marquette, is the location for the last workshop in the Marquette County Conservation District’s urban agriculture workshop series. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

MARQUETTE– Farming isn’t just for the country life, it’s also happening in the city on rooftops, in backyards, on balconies, in community gardens, vacant lots, parks and roadside spaces.

With new land-use ordinances in Marquette County is making it easier for city area residences to raise small livestock including bees, chickens and rabbits, and construct raised garden beds and season extension structures in urbanized areas. To meet the demand for information on these practices, the Marquette County Conservation District is offering free urban agriculture workshops this summer.

“We are really excited about this workshop series because there is a real need and interest in urban agriculture in Marquette County and we are really excited that we have that opportunity to fill that need,” said Jaime Beranek, urban agriculture assistant coordinator for the Marquette County Conservation District.

Thanks to a $30,000 grant awarded by the National Association of Conservation Districts, every second Saturday from June through September from 10 a.m. to noon at different locations, the MCCD will host a free workshop on various topics such as low-tech ways to extend the gardening season, raising chickens and rabbits, proper composting practices, native plants and pollinators.

In June the first workshop took place on growing mushrooms. The next workshop, Urban Agriculture with Season Extenders, discusses how to lengthen the growing season will take place Saturday at the Graveraet hoop house in Marquette. Abbey Palmer from Michigan State University Extension will be teaching the workshop.

“The workshops are technical, they are hands-on and they are discussion-based, Beranek said. “So there will be a lot of room for question and answer.”

The third class will be on raising small livestock such as rabbits and chickens, and city composting, at an Ishpeming residence on Aug. 10. The workshop location will be disclosed to registrants ahead of the scheduled date. Lastly, on Sept. 14 Native and Invasive Plants & Pollinators workshop will be held at the Trestle Corridor at the MCCD-maintained monarch butterfly waystation in downtown Marquette near the intersection of the bike path and Fourth Street in Marquette. The first 25 people to register for each class will be able to take home material goods from that workshop with them as an incentive.

“We really want to engage our community in talking about agriculture and learning about agriculture, increasing our food security and our access to local food that’s really important, expanding pollinator habitat, reducing food waste,” Beranek said. “All these things are important in everyone’s quality of life.”

Registration is free and available at Marquettecd.com. The MCCD asks that those interested in attending the workshops register at least one week in advance.

For more information, call Landen Titel, produce safety technician at the Marquette County Conservation District, at 906-226-8871 ext. 105.

Corey Kelly can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243.