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Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008 03:51 am

Winter is the time to learn and plan

Check out these central-Illinois gardening programs

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You may not be able to engage in many garden activities outdoors right now, but this is a great time of year to learn more. Here are some programs gardeners will enjoy:
Garden Basics The University of Illinois Extension Sangamon-Menard Unit and the Springfield Civic Garden Club will sponsor this series of seminars, designed to provide basic information to home gardeners. The series begins on Thursday, Jan. 24, and runs for five consecutive Thursdays, 6 to 8 p.m. Seminars cover plants, soil, flowers, trees, and pests. The registration fee of $25 covers the cost of all five sessions and a class notebook. Seminars will be held at Extension Building No. 30, on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Because class size will be limited, registration by Jan. 18 is encouraged. Send the registration fee to the Sangamon-Menard Extension Unit, 2501 N. Eighth St., Springfield 62702. For more information, call 217-782-4617.
Buy Local, Eat Healthy This seminar, featuring food demonstrations with fresh produce, will be offered at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Crowne Plaza (3000 S. Dirksen Pkwy.). Registration begins at 8 a.m. The seminar is sponsored by the Illinois Vegetable Growers Association, the Illinois State Horticulture Society, the Illinois Herb Association, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and the University of Illinois Extension. Chef Michael McGreal, chairman of the department of culinary arts and hospitality at Joliet Junior College, will prepare dishes incorporating fresh produce. Lloyd Nichols, an orchardist from Marengo, will explain how to select the right produce varieties. Extension educators from University of Illinois will explain how to store and handle fresh produce, what organic labels mean, and how to use herbs and spices, among other topics. For a detailed program agenda and a registration form, go to the Web site of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association (www.specialtygrowers.org), find “Convention Update,” and click on “More.” If you have questions, please call Diane Handley at 309-557-2107 or e-mail handley@ilfb.org.
Herb Day 2008 — This year’s “Herb Day” will be held 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Urbana. Several experts — including author Jeanne Rose of San Francisco, chef Ben Lubchansky of Urbana, artist Pat Burnell of Varna, Ill., and historian and author Jonathan Hoffman of Vicksburg, Mich. — are scheduled to lead educational sessions. The cost of registration is $49; the deadline is Jan. 11, and space is limited. For more information, call 217-333-7738 or e-mail preston1@uiuc.edu. 

Jennifer Fishburn is a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension Sangamon-Menard Unit. Contact her at fishburn@uiuc.edu.
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