Education and Events

The 2016 Gardening Educational Series

Green Spaces’ mission calls us to sustain the natural environment and enhance urban spaces through land conservation, community engagement, and education. We reach thousands of people just by supporting community gardens but we have the potential to reach thousands more through our gardening educational series.

Each year, Green Spaces Alliance brings a series of gardening work(ing)shops, training sessions, service-learning events, and celebrations to San Antonio. The series was originally designed for community gardeners in 2007 but has translated well for hobbyists, institutions, and backyard gardeners over the years. Lessons acquired from Green Spaces’ events are applicable to most aspects and landscapes in your life. If you are an experiential or visual learner then we have something for you!

“Thank you for all that you do with Green Spaces Alliance, every function I’ve attended has been helpful and interesting.”
-Michael G.

 

Trainings and Presentations

Garden Work(ing)shops
Community Building How-To
Resilient Design

Garden Work(ing)shops

Why attend a boring lecture-style workshop when you can partake in a Work(ing)shop? Each year, Green Spaces Alliance brings a series of gardening Work(ing)shops to San Antonio. Green Spaces’ Work(ing)shops always include a hands-on activity and are held at one of the our network community gardens. Participants get to try their hand at a useful gardening technique and witness an active San Antonio community garden, while gaining experience from San Antonio’s local experts and community gardeners.

March 5 – Gardening with Kids Work(ing)shop – Doral Club CG
March 12 – Gardens Alive: Community Art Project – Beacon Hill CG
May 21 – Ollas, Berms, and Swales Work(ing)shop – Olmos Park Terrace CG
May 27 – Farm to Gardens Benefit
June 18 – Get Cultured! Vermiculture and Composting Work(ing)shop – EcoCentro CG
July 16 – How to Steward a CG Workshop – Green Spaces Alliance office
August 27 – How to Start a CG Workshop – EcoCentro CG
September 17 – Herbs Outside of the Box Work(ing)shop – High Country CG
October 8 – How to Attract Pollinators into the Garden Work(ing)shop – Terrell Heights CG
October 22 – National Food Day – St. Therese CG
November 12 – Low Impact Design Work(ing)shop –  Location TBD

Note: Member gardens of the GSA network are required to attend a minimum of five workshops per year. Click here to download your attendance reporting form for each garden-related or community-building workshop.

Community Building How-To

Community Gardening has always been 90% community building and 10% gardening. Everyone can see the garden but we don’t all see all the coordination, communication, organizing, planning, conflict resolution, and inclusionary efforts that go into keeping a garden healthy and thriving. Furthermore, common metrics for community gardening revolve around numbers of gardens,  pounds of produce, square footage, and types of plants grown, but possibly the highest and best outcome of community gardening occurs in anecdotal data that is less easy to measure and record like when someone has a meaningful interaction with a child, eats better, feels better, feels safer, feels more connected to their community, stopped staring at a screen and went into the garden, feels pride in the community, feels a sense of security in knowing more neighbors, creates a network of support for elderly neighbors, or makes new friends.

Green Spaces can’t possibly establish all these benefits for every neighborhood but we know some tactics and best practices to get a group off to a strong start. We’ll share what we’ve learned with you at our community-building events.

Pollinator Series

For those who are unable to attend GSA’s scheduled educational events, GSA offers a personalized option for your family, business, or civic group. Choose this option to choose a topic, suggest preferred dates, and offer a host location. Requesters pay for the professional service at least 10 days in advance but after a date is confirmed.

  • GSA offers one-hour presentations on the following topics for $70 per 1-hour presentation:
    • Spring Vegetable Gardening
    • Organic Gardening
    • Fall Vegetable Gardening
    • Community Organizing
    • Water Conservation
    • Gardening with Kids
    • Garden Placement and Design
  • Contact Chris Babis, Sustainable Urban Landscapes Manager, to learn more and/or request a presentation.
What is a Pollinator Presentation?

Pollinator presentations are mobile mini-workshops created by Green Spaces Alliance to increase stewardship capacity among home gardeners, community gardeners, civic groups, and the phyto-curious.

The benefit of this educational option is that you can suggest a date and offer a location, which may be your home, your place of business, your school, or your civic club. In other words, our experts come to you.

We offer one-hour workshops on the following topics during the specified time of year:

  • Spring Vegetable Gardening: January- March
  • Organic Gardening: April-July
  • Fall Vegetable Gardening: July-September
  • Community Organizing: October-December
  • Inspiring Grown-Ups to Garden with Kids: September-April
  • Water Conservation: January-February, July-August

Each workshop is presented in an easy to understand style. Experts will begin with a PowerPoint presentation followed by hands-on activities to aid all learning styles.

Each one-hour workshop costs $70.00 and the fee must be paid in full before the workshop date.

Pollinator Presentations are perfect for groups of about 10-30 people, such as civic groups, neighborhood associations, home-owner associations, community garden groups, and senior community groups.

These presentation fees support our entire educational series so we can continue to offer workshops on a sliding-fee scale to our low-income community garden groups.

We ask that the following features be available to our presenters:

  • Indoor Venue
  • Presentation Table
  • Electricity
  • Seating for Attendees

Resilient Design

Green Spaces Alliance Community Gardens Program supports a wide range of community greening projects to include more than just your standard, cookie cutter community garden (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). In recent years, we have encouraged gardeners to think outside the planter box and use a wider range of design techniques that can help the garden be more resilient and sustainable. With guidance from GSA, gardens are incorporating very locally-appropriate and timely techniques that help enhance garden sites to utilize more stormwater runoff, incorporate plants to attract pollinators, and increase perennial crops. Food forests, Permaculture techniques, rain gardens, LID concepts, community orchards, nativescapes, and pollinator waystations are all great formulas for community gardens.

Many of the listed techniques make garden maintenance more efficient than traditional row crops or formal raised beds. Service-learning events hosted by Green Spaces give participants the opportunity to acquire hands-on knowledge and enhance an urban green space using these outside-the-box techniques.

Permaculture

A PermaBlitz is a working and learning event that helps a family or community realize the full potential of their land through applied Permaculture techniques. Participants will work and learn along with local Permaculture experts and garden gurus. A PermaBlitz can last one or two full days on a given weekend. Work duties will be interspersed with expert talks and mini lessons on Permaculture techniques and principles that can be applied to your own personal environment.

Low Impact Design

Low Impact Design (LID) techniques run parallel with those of Permaculture in that site planning involves using natural slope, water infiltration and capture onto garden sites from impervious cover, and appropriate plant selection. Like Permaculture, LID projects usually incorporate bioswales to optimize water runoff to encourage ecological biodiversity and filter runoff before it enters our creeks and rivers.

Rain Gardens

A rain garden is a concave, planted area that accepts rainfall and stormwater runoff from impervious areas in the urban landscape. They serve to slow water and allow it to infiltrate which keeps it from running quickly into storm drains and surface waters and subsequently cause erosion, flooding and diminished groundwater. Nearby plantings benefit from the stormwater that is allowed to collect and absorb especially in regions struggling with drought. Plantings often consist of native plants that attract pollinators and possibly even food producing plant species. San Antonio is an ideal city for rain gardens given our torrential rains coupled with long periods of drought and our geographic location along many migratory paths and flyways.

Participants at these service-learning events will:

  • Learn how to apply each technique to their own yards.
  • Become more aware of the city-wide benefits and time and money values of these techniques
  • See how they address challenges associated our region’s water quality and our propensity for drought

endorsed by mfc

The Fruitful San Antonio Initiative for 2015

Fruitful SA is a three-part initiative aimed at connecting the garden with the kitchen and creating opportunities for food sharing among friends and neighbors. Local food is growing in abundance in San Antonio’s community gardens and it is time for some extras to be prepared, shared, and enjoyed.

Thank you to everyone who joined Green Spaces Alliance this year as we celebrated the wealth of local food growing right here in San Antonio’s neighborhoods!

HarvestBlitz
Plot-to-Plate
Harvest Stations

HarvestBlitz

harvest-blitz-1-collage_05Green Spaces hosted three Community Harvest Blitzes in 2015, in some of San Antonio’s high-yielding community gardens. Gardeners, foodies, and healthy-eating advocates were invited to attend and enjoy the time-honored tradition of sharing food as a community. Each Harvest Blitz featured demonstrations from local chefs, tastings crafted by nutrition experts, garden gurus sharing cultivation tips, and fun, informative films to cap off each evening.

Plot-to-Plate

harvest-blitz-1-collage_10Plot-to-Plate Workshops were held in six select community gardens for their surrounding neighborhood community.  A total of 18 dates were scheduled so that each garden hosted three workshops – one in the spring season, one in the summer season, and one in the fall season. Workshops focused on the cycle of food as it grows from a seed in the garden plot to the healthy fare nutritious food on the dinner plate.  Thank you to everyone who helped and participated!

Harvest Stations

A GSA first was the design and implementation of four Harvest Stations in four of our network community gardens. The objective of  Harvest Stations is to encourage fresh food consumption at each garden and create an intentional space designed for food preparation and sharing food among neighbors. Green Spaces Alliance is partnering with local, award-winning architects who will mentor architecture students in UTSA’s College of Architecture, Construction, and Planning.

Thanks to the Aetna Foundation and the Lattner Family Foundation for their support of this initiative. Fruitful San Antonio is aligned with the Aetna GoLocal: Cultivating Healthy Communities focus on promoting and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, getting outdoors, and active lifestyles.