By Megan Badger
Wire Managing Editor
Up until two years ago, AnnaMarie Chiofolo never considered herself a gardener.
Now, she’s growing her own organic produce with the help of the BucksMont Organic Gardeners.
This informal group of gardeners isn’t your average garden club. They have no interest in pretty pink flowers. Instead, they are committed to growing food using organic, sustainable methods.
“When I first joined, I didn’t garden. I went to be educated,” Chiofolo said in a recent interview with the Midweek Wire. “We learned a lot about raised beds, extended gardening, feeding soil and worm composting.”
Each month, the group holds meetings, which are open to the public, to learn about organic gardening methods. On Monday, March 11, more than 50 people attended a presentation by Sally McCabe of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, who shared information about four seasons gardening at the Churchville Nature Center.
On April 8, local gardeners and novices can learn about herb gardening from a member of the Tamanend Park Herb Club.
The club welcomes anyone with an interest in organic gardening methods — or growing food without the use of unnatural fertilizers and pesticides. Chiofolo said the group is informal, and simply showing up to a meeting or event means you’re in the club.
“We concentrate on vegetables and come up with natural solutions for pest control and promoting healthy soil,” she said.
Members learn about the importance of pollinators, methods of water conservation and composting, among other topics. Due to the experience and knowledge she’s gained through BMOG, Chiofolo relies almost entirely on her own garden for produce during the summer months and, sometimes, into fall and winter.
“I was growing Swiss chard in my garden until December,” she said. “In the summer, I don’t pay for any produce. It’s so economical.
“If you just do it you’ll be amazed with the quality that you get,” she added. “Grocery store produce has been sitting there for days.”
BMOG has members throughout Bucks and Montgomery counties. Some members live in rural settings with lots of space, and others live in a suburban setting and have a very small plot for gardening. Chiofolo lives in Doylestown, Bucks County, and is able to successfully grow organic produce in her modest garden.
“Just getting your hands in dirt and connecting yourself to the earth is an amazing experience,” she said. “I’m new to the group, and I’m sold.”
The BucksMont Organic Gardeners will meet Monday, April 8, at 7:15 p.m. at the Churchville Nature Center. The program will be “Herbs 101: 10 basic culinary herbs to grow and use in cooking; plus five herbs no one should be without.”
For more information on upcoming events, email BMOGardeners@gmail.com.