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Chickens and herbs

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The Myriad Botanical Gardens wants to help present and future green thumbs and those with poultry on their minds at its Gardening School 2014: From Chard to Chickens: Rethinking the American Kitchen Garden. The daylong symposium topics will be about kitchen gardening and landscape design with a focus on edible plants.

“We’ve often concentrated on ornamental gardening, but this year, we wanted to do edible gardening because a lot of people want to learn about it and are new to it and want to do it better,” said Maureen Heffernan, executive director of the gardens.

Organizers will bring in two nationally known speakers — Rosalind Creasy and Tres Fromme — for the event.

Creasy is the author of Edible Landscaping and is a nationally known food writer and landscape designer. Fromme is the landscape design and planning manager at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Fromme was partly responsible for the nationally known Atlanta Outdoor Kitchen Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

“It’s been there for four years, and it’s really helped people get inspired about putting produce and herbs in their everyday gardens,” Heffernan said.

Fromme is considered an expert on nontraditional thinking, especially when it comes to edible gardening. He will speak about how to use small spaces, such as a vertical herb garden on a patio, efficiently.

“More and more people are interested in growing their own produce and herbs. This year’s focus will be on how to think about that differently,” Heffernan said.

Creasy was a pioneer in edible gardening. In the days when many people in America had huge green lawns full of grass or elaborate landscaping and little else, she was encouraging people to incorporate edibles into their beautiful gardens and yards. She had traveled extensively with her husband and had seen a lot of edible plants in people’s landscaping.

She set out to change people’s mindset about having edibles mixed in with the landscaping on their properties, and it worked.

She
is the author of 18 books and is a nationally recognized expert on
incorporating edibles into both front yards and backyards.

“Nobody was thinking you could put edibles in the front yard. It just seemed obvious to me,” she said.

In
addition to teaching about edible gardening, Creasy also teaches
Chicken School, a special pre-conference session taking place Friday
afternoon.

“When we
picked out chickens, we had no idea it would be such a political issue
this year. I guess it was good timing,” Heffernan said.

The
measure to allow chickens in residential lots was rejected by the
Oklahoma City Council in January. In anticipation of what is allowed now
and what will hopefully be allowed in the near future, the school will
address the basics of keeping chickens healthy and happy. Creasy, who
keeps her chickens in the front yard, explained that not only does she
want to teach the basics about chickens, she wants to help instill in
people how truly life-changing the process of raising chickens can be.

“I want to go into the joy and the frustrations of it,” she said.

Gardening
School has teamed up with Urban Agriculture to have live chickens in a
coop in the Children’s Garden for the event. In addition to the visiting
speakers, there will be two local speakers who will get into the nitty
gritty about Oklahoma-specific gardening issues.

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