Survive The Zombie Apocalypse!

Families who garden together … survive the Zombie Apocalypse together?

The West Virginia University Extension in Marshall County hopes its upcoming tongue-in-cheek gardening education campaign – “Quick, Plant Something! Food Survival for the Zombie Apocalypse” – will resonate with young families who may know more about zombies rising out of graves than they do about pulling food out of the ground.

The extension office will host the six-class gardening course beginning Thursday, Aug. 8 at the former West Viginia Penitentiary in Moundsville. Each session will teach gardening basics for adults with corresponding activities for children provided by the Marshall County Family Resource Network. The zombie theme will be tied in creatively, and the final class takes place two days before the third annual Zombie Walk in Moundsville.

“My husband and I are big fans of zombies,” said course director Karen Cox, agriculture program assistant at the Marshall County Extension office. They are far from alone. Americans are wild about zombies. There is the popular TV show, “The Walking Dead,” plus zombie dolls, zombie video games, zombie lunch boxes, zombie family decals for the back window of SUVs, and even zombie proms and weddings.

And on Thursday, media outlets reported “Little Miss Sunshine” actress Abigail Breslin will play the zombie title role in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new film “Maggie.”

Cox, whose job partially entails sparking local interest in farming and horticulture, said she had been seeking ways to reach a younger audience when her husband, Darrin, sent her a link to – a site run as a hobby by a couple in Colorado.

She loved the idea, and while driving back from a conference one day, she said the course topics just “bubbled up” in her head.

“A lot of people are intimidated by gardening. They think it is really time consuming and takes a lot of skill. … My goal is to reach out to parents of young children like my husband and me and tell them, ‘You can garden. You can grow your own food. You can grow it on your balcony, you can grow it in your car if that’s what you have to do.'”

The classes are from 6-7:30 p.m. and start on Aug. 8 with the topic: “Time is not on your side.” Cox understands how busy today’s families are: She and Darrin both work and have two sons ages 3 3/4 (he is adamant about that 3/4, she said) and 6 1/2. This class will teach participants “how to use easily found materials in a time-saving way to install and maintain a garden without removing the sod, digging or tilling.”

“We want to teach them to make it smaller and simpler. Because you won’t have a lot of time when the zombies are coming,” Cox quipped.

The remaining classes are:

Aug. 15 – “Tools and fortifications: Learn the basic tools you need to start and keep a garden. Take home a small, foldable fence to keep both zombies and deer out of your dinner.”

Aug. 22 – “Rule No. 7 Travel Light, Eat Well: Learn how to help plants resist attack from insects and disease.”

Aug. 29 – “Good thing I have a rain barrel: Learn what steps you need to take to use rainwater for drinking and gardening. Build a rain barrel to take home.”

Sept. 5 – “Help! We’re trapped on the roof! Be resourceful and learn how to grow vegetables in any container.”

Sept. 19 – “Winter is coming: When winter comes, you’ll still need to eat. Learn how to save your food without power, what foods to save and where to stash them.” Cox also will discuss saving seeds for next year’s crop.

“People depend on refrigerators. I don’t think people know what they can do without a refrigerator,” Cox said. Preservation methods include drying, smoking and keeping food under ground. “We will make a mock root cellar out of a 5-gallon bucket you can plant in your yard.”

Local businesses are donating many of the supplies, Cox noted.

Meanwhile, Andrew Croft and Melody Osborne from the Marshall County Family Resource Network will teach children about growing food and adopting healthy habits through fun activities, such as making worm gardens and micro-greenhouses, and playing “can you outrun a zombie?”

“It’s important for the children to see the importance of gardening and being able to grow their own food and to make healthy choices when eating,” Croft said.

Cox said all ages are welcome. She said if their parents are “into” zombies, their children already have been introduced to the make-believe fiends and she doesn’t anticipate any problems with kids being scared.

Cox gave a nod to ZombieVictory for allowing her to use their artwork in promoting the event and for providing T-shirts to all participants who complete four or more classes. She hopes participants will join the Zombie Walk on Sept. 21 and wear their shirts, which say “Save Me First.”

“Part of my job is to inspire people to become farmers. … If I can get someone inspired to grow one tomato plant and two heads of lettuce, maybe the next year they’ll have two tomato plants and give some to their neighbor,” Cox said.

There is a discount rate for couples and for registering for all six classes. Children can participate for free with a paying adult. For information, visit or call the Extension, 304-843-1170.