The Art of Gardening

By: Mindy Kearns - Point Pleasant Register

MASON, W.Va. — The fourth in a series of free gardening and landscaping workshops will be held Monday evening at Bob’s Market and Greenhouses Inc. in Mason.

“Natural Gardening with Ducks as Pest Assassins” will be presented at 6 p.m. in the production facility of the Bob’s Market complex. The workshop will be taught by Debra Russell, a natural urban gardener from New Haven.

The workshops began in June, with one being held each month. Previous workshops have included vermiculture (composting with worms), fertilizers, and beekeeping, according to John Morgan, information technology specialist with Bob’s Market. He said the workshops are a way to help people succeed with their outdoor efforts.

“When customers buy our products, we also want to equip them with the knowledge they need to succeed with their gardening or landscaping projects,” Morgan said.

He stated for the past few years, Bob’s Market has posted instructional videos to YouTube, and also has a weekly e-newsletter with blog posts and recipes at

“The idea for hosting workshops really grew as an offshoot of those outreach efforts, along with the tours we host and various speaking engagements throughout the area,” Morgan said. “We also know many local experts, including our own employees, and wanted a way to share their knowledge in person. We decided to make the workshops free of charge because we want everyone to have access to this great information.”

Monday’s expert, Debra Russell, has been a permaculture student for 36 years. As a nature lover, her regenerative natural gardening research led her to include integrated pest control using two ducks. She also has experience in animal behavior training that allowed her to successfully develop a program of management for the ducks as pest assassins in her garden.

Russell is originally from New Haven, but lived in Florida for a number of years before returning to Mason County. She is certified in urban permaculture.

Helping to establish the New Haven Farmers Market, Russell is perhaps best known to the younger residents in the Bend Area. She has taught gardening classes at an after-school program at New Haven Elementary, where the children learned about natural gardening using no tilling, weeding, chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Morgan said to maintain a small group setting, each workshop is limited to 30 participants. To register, those interested can log onto

Morgan added due to the success of the workshops, the business plans to expand and also hold them at the Belpre, Ohio, location next spring. Some future topics will include container planting and cooking demonstrations.

Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.