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Get Smart, Go Green

Springtime brings the delight of planting: Learn how to make your garden grow with organic and sustainable practices.

By Paula Riley
Photography by Paula Riley

Who nurtures earthly things best? The answer “Mothers!” wins the day, but gardeners rank highly too. To produce the delights we admire and relish, they’re always learning. Even accomplished gardeners benefit from the knowledge and camaraderie of those who teach others to grow in wiser ways. For instance:

Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply in Grass Valley offers seminars on topics such as growing medicinal and culinary herbs, beekeeping, soil amendments, permaculture, and canning and preserving foods. Most are free; some require minimal materials. Nursery staff can suggest organic supplies for your Sierra climate and the website provides how-to videos and weekly tips. Find them at 125 Clydesdale Court in Grass Valley, CA, 530-272-4769,

The Front Yard Nursery in Placerville focuses on organic products and eco-friendly practices to protect soil and water tables. Garden planning and planting can take place year-round. Front Yard staff works Monday through Friday answering questions and providing plant stock; their website calendar recommends when to weed, add amendments and plant. The nursery is located at 5801 Motherlode Drive, Placerville, CA, 530- 626-3494,

Tahoe Food Hub is a nonprofit working to reduce food insecurity by growing and selling local produce through Lake Tahoe area markets, and reducing the miles those foods travel to reach end users. The basin’s abundant “food shed” is supported by a network of small, sustainable farms. For local market opportunities and events, visit

River School Farm in west Reno offers year-round farming and educational opportunities that demonstrate a holistic approach to sustainable living. It supports organic micro farm sites around the Truckee Meadows—with a goal of growing 20 percent of locally consumed food by 2020—and hosts permaculture and local food network groups. Sustainable farming tours are held the first Friday of each month at 3 p.m. Cost $5–$10; RSVP online. The farm is at 7777 White Fir St., Reno, NV, 775-747- 2222,

Heirloom Gardens’ permaculture-inspired garden coaching shows Reno area gardeners how to “foodscape” their yards and/or go organic. Free one-hour consultations; coaching costs $50/hour. The website provides articles on the soil-food web, along with recipes for compost tea and more. Contact Valarie Rider at 775-250-2240 or

Moana Nursery’s knowledgeable Reno staff includes “plant doctors.” Upcoming free hour-long seminars include Successful Nevada Gardening (April 1), Organic Vegetable Gardening (April 8), Fertilizers and Pruning (April 22), and Water-Thrifty Lawns (April 29). The month of May brings irises and other subjects to 1100 W. Moana Lane in Reno, NV, 775- 825-0600,


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