London wants to be the most beautiful city in Kentucky. For this year’s contest, the city wants to decorate each vacant space to make the city look more attractive. Mr. Riley is known to run Grow Appalachia and also works with gardens around the city. He was recommended to use a plot that had been assigned to the London City Christian Homeless Shelter but had been neglected, as a garden for children and create a beautiful sight- within the next two weeks.
The plot is about half an acre large with the 15 boxes placed on half of it. The boxes are also located downtown the city at an easily accessible site which draws attention to people passing by. Mr. Riley said he picked up the project because from the article in the Monday’s paper, he could tell that I was serious and willing to work hence had a project for me to embark on. He said I could use these boxes to attract children and help them work in the boxes and grow whatever food they would like to grow for their families.
We headed to the site and started pulling out weeds and cleaning up the boxes. As we worked, 15 volunteer students on a church mission trip arrived to help us. In the next hour we were able to complete the wedding and laying of mulch to cover the concrete on the ground.
|Volunteers from the Bennet Center Joined us on this new site|
Four young girls came and worked with us also. They are from London and were happy to have their own boxes. With two girls to each box, they all wanted watermelon so they planted them, 3 seeds in a hole, 12 inches apart and were able to fit 12 holes into the box. They were so excited about their boxes, one said, and “I have never done this before”.
Their enthusiasm convinced me that a door could be opened for children to be engaged in growing their own food. There were 3 boxes that had already been planted with strawberry, tomato and potato plants. One of the girls was excited to see a real growing strawberry because she had never seen one before. I told her that next year, she could grow her own strawberries because it was too late to start a bush. This opportunity enabled me to teach her about food seasons and the times that food grows. It is very encouraging to see her innocently take pride in her box. Adults engage in gardening for the food and exercise it gives, children participate just for fun. Yet, they are completely innocent of the movement that they are joining and hopefully, lives, their own lives and that of their families that would be changed as a result of their willingness to raise a garden. I believe from today that Grow Appalachia is really given people an opportunity to better themselves. From my director, who is learning to trust and utilize my skills and talents, to the little six year old girl, who would have her very own watermelon patch, Grow Appalachia is rejuvenating Central Appalachia, one plant at a time.