This year, Cibolo Nature Center & Farm (CNC&F) has a variety of educational opportunities for children and adults alike. Among them is the new Backyard Garden Series, which will be held at the Teaching Barn at Herff Farm on the first Saturday of every month.
The series aims to introduce attendees to techniques that they can adopt in their own backyards, whether they live on 40 acres or have just a few square feet to work with.
The series kicked off on Feb.1 with a Fruit Tree Pruning class led by local horticulturist Keith Amelung of Have Spade Will Travel. Attendees learned about how to properly prune woody plants, including roses, and basic pruning techniques before venturing out onto the native plant berm along Herff road to get hands-on experience.
Everyone left with three cuttings each of the fig trees that grow in Herff Farm’s chicken coop. Fig trees can easily be propagated from hardwood cuttings taken when the tree is dormant. The cuttings were each dipped in either honey, seaweed or root hormone so that attendees can observe which is most effective at encouraging rooting.
On March 7, Mike Mendez will offer a beekeeping workshop. A master beekeeper, Mendez keeps bees at Jester King Brewery in Dripping Springs, and at Community First Village in Austin, a community of tiny homes for the homeless.
His class is well-suited to people trying to decide whether beekeeping is practical for them, and will explain the next steps for those wanting to get started.
Mendez has been a popular fixture at CNC&F’s festivals and events, so this is a chance for people to get a more in-depth experience with him.
On April 4, the CNC&F will host Dr. Mark “Merriwether” Vordebruggen. Dr. Vordebruggen earned the nickname “Merriwether” after Merriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Vordebruggen’s website, Foraging Texas (foragingtexas.com) boasts an extremely comprehensive archive of plants that can be foraged in Texas. He includes detailed plant identification photos, along with information about edible parts of the plant, medicinal uses, preparations and poisonous mimics.
He is also the author of the book,”Idiot’s Guide to Foraging,” which covers 70 of North America’s tastiest and easiest to find wild edibles. Vordebruggen holds a PhD in physical organic chemis try and expertise that allows him to describe in detail how particular chemicals present in plants interact with our bodies.
On May 2, Michelle Gorham of Wallflower Farm & Garden will lead a Cut-Flower Workshop utilizing flowers grown on Herff Farm. Gorham designs edible landscapes using Texas native plants and hyperlocal ornamental flowers.
Her 4-acre property on San Antonio’s South Side is a shining example of what can be achieved through rewilding efforts. The workshop will take place the day after May Day, or Beltane, which is the perfect time to celebrate the bounty of spring with a native flower bouquet. Beltane is one of the four seasonal celebrations of Gaelic tradition and it falls halfway between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. Long ago in the British Isles, the holiday would often be celebrated by collecting flowers.
To register or to view a full schedule of the Backyard Garden Series visit www. cibolo.org or e-mail Maura Bobbitt, Farm Programs Coordinator, for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.