CUMMING, Ga. — Farmers and want-to-be growers alike who are too busy sowing seeds to make it to one of Cane Creek’s organic growing classes in person will soon have the option to learn online.
Starting Feb. 27, the farm will offer multiple online classes on organic growing, a Cane Creek specialty.
“One of the obstacles that prevents people from taking the class is lack of time on Saturday or living at a distance from the farm,” said Cane Creek’s Lynn Pugh. “The online classes overcome those obstacles. Learning farm skills is difficult on the computer, so the field experience component is recommended for most people. But the online class allows those who cannot come to the farm to participate.”
Pugh had a dream for years to start her own farm. She wanted to live a more sustainable lifestyle, surrounded by a community of people interested in similar pursuits. During the 18 years she taught science in high school and college while she and her husband, Chuck, raised their family, she gardened on a small scale. Then, in 2001, as the children went off to their own productive lives, Pugh was able to begin applying her knowledge to transform their land into the farm it is today.
With a Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry and a Master of Science in plant pathology, Pugh, who is also an education specialist in science curriculum, has the foundation to make informed decisions about the farm and to help others learn the scientific fundamentals of sustainable agriculture.
Pugh’s involvement with Georgia Organics, which began in 1986, led to the production of a marketing manual, then to developing a class curriculum on organic growing.
“So it was a natural step for me to begin teaching organic growing classes on the farm. Since 2007, I have been able to meet and teach some amazing students,” Pugh said. “I continue to consult with a number of these students as they develop their own farms.”
Community is at the heart of why the classes have been so successful and why they continue to be taught, she said.
Students get to know Pugh and their fellow students and, often, those relationships do not end with the last class. Some students become Community Supported Agriculture members, volunteers, fellow farmers and/or friends. Two students who met in the organic growing class have even become partners in a farm business, Pugh said. The classes are helping to build a network of gardener/farmers who can share information and help others learn how to grow organically.
“Our mission is to encourage others to create a more sustainable lifestyle for themselves, their families and their communities,” Pugh said. “We enjoy offering a variety of learning experiences — from classes to tours to work shares — for those interested in discovering or deepening their understanding of how to grow their own food using sustainable, chemical-free growing practices. Our ‘students’ include the beginning backyard gardener, the experienced farmer wanting to learn more, and schoolchildren spending a day or a week on the farm.”
The first class consists of four units, two on soil and two on plants, and lasts from Feb. 27 to April 16. This information is important to anyone wanting to grow food, and especially to those who want to grow organically, Pugh said. The curriculum is based on Georgia Organics’ Fundamentals of Organic Farming and Gardening that she helped to develop.
For information on other classes, visit canecreekfarm.net.