On Sept. 10, local permaculture designer Scott McCoy will help you get your hands dirty at Spalding House with his workshop What is Forest Gardening? Learning to Garden with Nature.

Unlike conventional gardening, which tends to focus on high-maintenance decorative plants, forest gardening requires no tilling, weeding or pesticides because it mimics natural forest ecosystems. So what’s the difference between a forest garden and a plain old forest? A forest garden is intentional and sustainable. “It is the combined cultivation of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants,” says Scott. “You can use these gardening techniques for restoration or crop production.”

The scientific name for this practice is agroforestry. “It’s thought to be one of the first forms of agriculture, and it has really well-known roots in Polynesia,” says Scott. “It’s actually a system that was practiced by the Native Hawaiians with canoe plants.” Indigenous plant species—the aforementioned canoe plants—like ‘ulu, ‘olena, ti, and kava are all perfect candidates for a forest garden in Hawai‘i.

The workshop will help you get started as a budding agroforester—you’ll make a forest garden of textile and dye plants (sorry, if you want to learn how to grow lettuce, this is not for you). Participants will work with the lipstick plant, mulberry, cotton, ‘olena (turmeric), as well as banana trees, whose fibrous trunks can be made into fabric.

After learning techniques, workshop participants will leave with plants they can use to start a forest garden at home (if they don’t live in an apartment, that is).

Workshop details: $45, $35 for museum members. Register online.