Last week I dug Irish potatoes, planted purple hull peas, picked my first pole beans to snap, saved a cherry tomato plant from a fat tobacco horn worm, and fetched a big chicken snake out of a hen’s nest.

I have been raising chickens, prowling prairies, and growing a garden since childhood, so it comes as second nature to me. I descend from a lengthy line of Deep East Texas folks that knew how to feed themselves. But as we all know, times are vastly different now as most people feed themselves through grocery stores and restaurants. The good news is that there is much interest these days in producing fresh produce on one’s own land and own terms. Home grown produce is naturally fresher than the store-bought versions and brings a world of satisfaction to those that find a way to produce it. In addition to nutritious food, gardening and farming provide exercise, sunlight, fresh air, and mental stimulation.

Thankfully, there are many books, publications, websites, and YouTube videos to help get the ball rolling. If you prefer an in-person “crash course,” you are in luck as Prairie View A&M University and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be hosting a Backyard Gardening Workshop at the Tyler Rose Center (420 Rose Park Dr Tyler, Texas 75702) Friday June 14, 2024. The program is sponsored by the Smith County Soil and Water Conservation District, Texas Organics, Rose City Honey Company, and Texas Farm Bureau Insurance.

This educational event is tailored towards small landowners and urban residential homeowners who have an interest in starting vegetable, poultry, and honey production in their own backyards. The program will also cover creating your own pocket prairie for native birds, bees, and butterflies.

Topics and speakers include: 

  • Urban Gardening – Landon Garrett, Urban Conservationist, NRCS 
  • Financial Resources for Backyard Conservation –Clinton Warrick, Farm Service Agency
  • Pocket Prairies- Bringing Native Plants and Pollinators Back to East Texas — Greg Grant, Smith County Extension Agent-Horticulture
  • Beekeeping for Pollinator Gardens and Honey Production – Brandon Foard, Rose City Honey Company
  • Mushroom Production Using Mushroom Stems for Poultry Consumption and Feed Research Summaries– Dr. Jayant Lohakare, Prairie View Poultry Research Scientist  

 The cost for the program is $5.00 per person with payment accepted at the door via cash, check, or credit cards. Registration is at 8:30 with the program ending at 12:15. If you have any questions, please contact the Smith County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office 903-590-2980. The flyer and schedule are posted on the Texas A&M AgriLife-Smith County Facebook and web pages.