Wednesday, June 29, 2011

GROW Appalachia @ Red Bird Mission by Magan Meade

First, I believe that I should introduce myself. My name is Magan Meade and I am one of two GROW Appalachia interns, here at the Red Bird Mission site in Beverly, KY.  I have come to Red Bird in the middle of the growing season and found myself in the midst of some very productive gardens. 

The first day (June 23rd), that I worked with the GROW Appalachia employees at Red Bird Mission, we were taken to two of the participant garden sites.  The first site was 50 miles away from the Red Bird Mission near Manchester and the other site was also near Manchester.  We found ourselves deep in a holler along the mountains, off a mixed road of blacktop, dirt, and gravel.  The garden of this residence was located on a steep hillside, which had been a former location for the residents’ horses.  As we pulled up, the horses had dismissed our presence and continued to eat in their pouches placed along a fence below the garden.  We had noticed that the plants that were on the left-side of the garden were doing very well and the plants on the right-side had been less productive than their counter-parts.  Chad Brock  (GROW Appalachia field technician) attributed the more successful plants to the horse manure that they had been mainly located on left-side of the garden. 

            (Notice the difference between the progress of the crops. The closest plants with darker soil are where the manure had been and the furthest away plants had the absence of manure.)

The next site that we visited, was located near Manchester, KY.  This garden belonged to a man named, Denver.  I was especially excited about this site because Chad had told me that Denver had some bees that he would probably love to show me.  We pulled into Denver’s driveway, where clearly we could see the collection of bees buzzing outside of their brooding chambers.  Then we heard a voice over the hill hollering for us.  We climbed the hillside up the driveway, to Denver’s barn, where his garden was located behind it.  In Denver’s barn were two massive pigs given by the Heifer program, which supplies Heifer participants with farm animals.  The participants can choose from dairy and beef cattle, goats, chickens, hair sheep, and pigs.  The participants are given a pregnant female along with a male. Then the participants are allowed to keep the first born animal and they must give the second born to someone else.  This type of program creates a self-sustainable community.  This is comparable to the GROW Appalachia garden program in which participants can grow their own food and then they must share their food and skills with other people in the community.  

(Fred on the left, Denver in the middle, and myself on the right looking at Denver’s blueberries and raspberries.)

(Denver’s garden on top of the mountain)
Back to Denver’s garden, it was tucked away behind his barn towards the top of a mountain.  Denver’s garden was a great sight to see. It included the basic vegetables and a few extra sweets such as raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry bushes along with some plentiful grape vines.  Down the steep driveway, Denver recently planted some beans and corn that had recently broke through the surface.  He said it was hard for him to start them because of the reoccurring rainfall.  He had plenty of vegetables that were ready for the picking and definitely some weeds that could take over that garden.  He was very proud and happy to show anything that we were interested in.  

On this same day, June 23,2011, Red Bird Mission held a canning workshop led by Laura Lee Howard.  The event had 20 participants all together including 11 GROW Appalachia participants and 9 people from the community.  This class was held to teach basic canning techniques and other drying and freezing methods.  All with the purpose of prolonging the supply of food through the fall, winter, and spring months of the people of Appalachia.  Not only did the participants come away from the workshop with a wealth of knowledge but they also came away from it with canning supplies. This included additives for the jams, freezer bags for storage, jars, and recipes to put their new canning knowledge to the test.  GROW Appalachia also had a drawing for two wagons to help ease the work of a garden.  Chad described the canning class as an exciting and pleasant atmosphere.  Participants were eager to learn and not afraid to ask questions, inspiring communication among everyone.  My first week of GROW Appalachia was a success and I am excited to see what the rest of the summer will bring. 

(Canning class participants, June 23, 2011)
(Wagon winners after the canning class, claiming their prizes.)

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