Tony Pereira, research assistant professor for the College of Engineering at Lamar University, held an organic gardening workshop Saturday, Oct. 20, at Basic Foods in Beaumont. The workshop promoted a chemical and pesticide-free approach to gardening and taught attendees how to start their own organic garden. “The chemicals used in industrial farms are running into the Mississippi River and causing dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, including one the size of New Jersey, 8,000 square miles, that reaches from Galveston all the way to the mouth of the Mississippi,” he said. Dead zones are areas in the world’s oceans and large lakes, caused by excessive nutrient pollution from human activities coupled with other factors that deplete the oxygen required to support most marine life in bottom and near-bottom water. Pereira said there are 400 to 500 dead zones around the world, and he believes the only way to prevent these zones is to replace industrial nitrogen-based farming with chemical-free organic farming. The workshop taught attendees about the tools required to grow an organic farm, how to build a compost pile, how to defend against harmful insects without using pesticides, and how to fertilize the garden without using animal manure that contains steroids and antibiotics. For more information, e-mail Tony Pereira at solartony [at] gmail [dot] com.