New JWCC courses accent popularity of growing own fruits, vegetables

Posted: Aug. 11, 2014 9:10 am Updated: Sep. 1, 2014 12:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

John Wood Community College's offering of a new "Sustainable Local Food" series on how to better grow fruits and vegetables is designed to satisfy a demand.

"The interest in growing and eating local food grown sustainably has increased dramatically across our district in the last few years," said David Schachtsiek, JWCC's vice president for instruction.

The end result is a series of four eight-week courses that are open to current producers, individuals who want to begin growing crops or anyone interested in becoming an organic producer.

Two of the four classes begin Aug. 18. The other two begin Oct. 15.

"Within the reach of the (JWCC) district, nearly 50 local producers are providing restaurants, grocery stores and families with vegetables, fruits, meats, wines and more," Schachtsiek said.

All course content will be delivered online. Students in all classes will also meet for hands-on work with local experts at JWCC's demonstration market garden and greenhouse in the southeast corner of the Quincy campus at 48th and Harrison.

The four courses will cover a variety of topics:

"Introduction to Sustainable Growing Practices" will explore the production of specialty crops using organic methods. Production methods and record-keeping procedures based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program will be taught during the course.

"Plant Propagation" will provide students with a working knowledge of seed saving, cuttings, budding, grafting, division and layering.

"Practical Soil Management will introduce students to the concepts of soil quality and health. Those in the course will learn to assess soil quality and gain knowledge of soil management practices to improve and maintain soil quality.

"Integrated Pest Management" will offer students pest-management strategies appropriate for fruit and vegetable crops in the Midwest, including the study of major pests, diseases and weeds affecting such crops.

"This new series will help individuals of all skill levels learn how to grow their own foods using the latest practices and technology," Schachtsiek said.

Residents may enroll in one or all four courses.

"Introduction to Sustainable Growing Practices" and "Integrated Pest Management" classes begin Au. 18. "Plant Propagation" and "Practical Soil Management" courses start Oct. 15.

All courses may be taken for academic credit and are made possible through the Illinois Green Economy Network consortium.