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Galloping Gourmet is keynote speaker at Whidbey Gardening Workshop

Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet, will highlight lessons from his first year as a kitchen gardener at this year
Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet, will highlight lessons from his first year as a kitchen gardener at this year's Whidbey Gardening Workshop.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Todd Peterson

Television's famed "Galloping Gourmet" will trot into town later this month as the keynote speaker in this year's Whidbey Gardening Workshop.

The annual event returns to Coupeville on March 19. The workshop — which runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the high school — boasts 59 classes such as “Gardening 101: The Good Earth” to “In Praise of Native Pollinators.” Classes include growing vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers, plus ones devoted to cooking and preserving the bounty of your garden.

Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet, will highlight lessons from his first year as a kitchen gardener.

“Before I began, I’d never met a plant I couldn’t kill," Kerr recalled.

"I began knowing nothing. The most important thing at the start was to slow down," he added. "I needed to learn what I needed to know. To understand the microclimate in which plants grow here. To understand soil and seed selection. To learn how to find my way around the garden.”

Kerr said that, like the President and First Lady, he dug up his south lawn. He put in raised beds and a greenhouse and documented the experience in seven and a half hours of video footage and a new book, "Growing at the Speed of Life," his 29th book.

There was a lot that took root in his first year in the garden, and much more than a variety of veggies.

Gardeners are like bees, Kerr believes, pollinating their neighborhoods with knowledge and with food so that there will be no hungry people.

“[It] gave me a greater sense of neighborhood. It enabled me to connect with people at a depth we would never have experienced with out gardening. It showed me the great need we have for good food,” he said.

In taking 200 pounds of produce from his garden that went to the local food bank, he said, “I had one of the best days of my entire life” knowing the food would go out to a hundred homes.

Kerr, 77, has been a cooking celebrity since the 1960s. His television program, “The Galloping Gourmet” was broadcast through the mid 70s. Since then he has produced 1,000 TV shows focusing on healthy eating highlighting what he calls “minimum risk, maximum flavor.”

In addition to his keynote address, Kerr will sign copies of his new book and present a class on preparing and serving the bounty of the garden.

The cost of the workshop is $35, and a box lunch is available for $8.

For a complete list of classes and to register go to http://islandcountymastergardeners.com/wgw_2011/. To register by mail, call 360-679-7327.

The Whidbey Gardening Workshop is a program of the Master Gardeners of Island County.

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