Here is a great idea. Maybe others have thought of this, but I found it in Seven Arrows Early Winter Newsletter. [Ed. note: I encourage any and every commercial nursery to provide workshops, educational opportunities, and encouragement to us Rhode Islanders who are seeking to live closer to the earth and understand our place in the natural world. The Providential Gardener does not recommend particular businesses, but rather focuses on how Rhode Islanders can tend our shared garden ~ anyone with good ideas to that end including businesses, organizations, and individuals, is welcome to send along their news and suggestions. sk]
Seven Arrows has figured out everything you need to build a backyard garden and is offering it as a sort of kit, complete with a raised-bed frame, organic compost and loam, and a selection of seeds. They report that a 20' x 20' plot can feed a family of four (10' x 10' for 1-2 people). Help overcoming startup obstacles is important to many of us who wonder how we could ever set up a vegetable garden ourselves. It's really not that hard to do, but there's a trip to hardware stores or lumber yards (you want to be sure to have wood that is NOT treated with chemicals that will be picked up by the vegetables you plant), lugging of boards, arranging delivery of clean, rich soil/compost (anywhere near painted houses built before the 1970s can have lead in the soil ~ hence the importance of RAISED beds ~ and there are other possible contaminants even out in the suburbs and country. HAVE YOUR SOIL TESTED THIS SPRING!)
Seven Arrows Farm is just over the border into (gasp!) Massachusetts, and I've been there myself a few times. Those of us who love flowers enjoy traveling around and browsing in many of our local nurseries, seeing for ourselves what appeals to us. Gardeners develop their preferences, but it's worth exploring regularly ~ you never know how the various garden centers may have changed. Don't get set in your ways. Mix it up!
Many of the owner-operated nurseries and gardening centers in and near Rhode Island offer workshops and lectures on how to grow all kinds of fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and shrubs. And of course, all sorts of councils, societies, and associations offer many more workshops and training sessions on every aspect of gardening, horticulture, and landscaping. You will find these kinds of events in What Grows On in Rhode Island, our state's most comprehensive calendar of gardening and environmental events. Anyone can send in their meeting notices, and listings are free. I hope to automate this soon (in fact, I wish I could already provide a submission form ~ I can hardly keep up with everything coming in manually, there's so much growing on around here!).
But no matter ~ I'll keep on building the Calendar. Send the Providential Gardener your meeting notices and share your expertise with your neighbors!