Friday, July 29, 2011

Henderson Settlement ~ Jackie Waldroop

We are proud to announce that our Farmers' Market is up and running, each Thursday evening from 4p.m. to 7p.m. We decided to try something different this year by changing the day and time of our Farmers' Market.
Robbie is one of our Grow Appalachia gardeners,
 she brought her homegrown Tomatoes
and several different types of jellies and her special homemade mustard to the Farmers' Market

Playing Checkers!

Homemade Ice Cream!

Canning Green Beans

On Wednesday July 27th we had our first Canning Class with Kristin Smith, Horticulture Program assistant with the Whitley County Extension Office. We canned Green Beans and learned how to safely operate a Pressure Canner. Each Grow Appalachia participant who took part in the class received a Pressure Canner and other canning supplies.

Kristin explaining how to break up beans

Learning how to put the lid on the Pressure Canner

Reading directions

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Beginning of a Market by Emily Vargo and Traviss Witt (Pine Mountain)

Every Saturday morning from 7:00 to 11:00 we coordinate a Farmers Market. Each week we reserve our spot on the side of the US-119, set up our canopies, display our locally grown produce, and make the booths look as appealing as possible. Our first market was July 9th, and the first three markets have left us encouraged. 
We originally proposed to locate the Farmers Market in Bledsoe, but after meetings with interested vendors the market has been moved to the 15 mile marker on US-119, on the south side of Pine Mountain, just outside the city limits of Harlan. This location is used on Saturday mornings by people selling yard sale type materials. Vendors interested in selling at the Farmers Market believe that they will get more business by setting up in a space that people are already used to stopping at on weekend mornings. This location also makes selling at (and buying from) the market more accessible to people living on the south side of Pine Mountain, but it is not too far away from the north side as it sits close to the junction of the main mountain crossing. The first week our booth had zucchini, jalapenos, cucumbers, eggs, raspberries, beans, squash, and tomato plants, but this tends to vary from week to week.
 Grow Appalachia participants sell any extra produce their family is not going to eat. On Fridays participants drop off whatever produce they wish to sell the next day. Grow Appalachia staff or a dedicated volunteer store the food properly, clean it, count it, and transport the food to the market.
Although nothing comparable existed at the location we chose, the Farmer’s Market has been very well received and we completely sold out on several occasions. An effective strategy used the first week was to offer free samples. After tasting our delicious raspberries many shoppers felt obliged to purchase something. One of the Grow Appalachia families came to the first farmer’s market and brought their daughter Alaina. She is 8 years old and she has wonderful selling tactics. She attracted customers via songs, dances, and free raspberries. Though we have not yet had leftover produce after a market day, we will donate any extra food to the Harlan branch of SWAP (Sharing With Appalachian People) in the future.
As the summer goes on we anticipate the growth of the Farmer’s Market. Although we got a late start on this year’s growing season, and do not have too much produce yet, there will be more vendors as the summer progresses. With the increase in vendors and produce, we believe that the Farmer’s Market will continue to expand.   
The Harlan Daily Enterprise wrote an article about the Farmers Market! Unfortunately, the article is not posted on the web, but the paper has offered to post it for us. Check back later and we will edit this post to include a link.

David Cooke Visit - St Vincent Mission - Gary Mitchell

We had a wonderful day yesterday, July 26th, with David as he came to visit and see some of our participants and their gardens. It was one of those rare days we didn't have a rain shower. We got to see several of our participants. We found some canning beans. Most talked about how wet it has been this season and the tomato blight. We saw some beautiful gardens in spite of the weather and some that has had water and wind damage. From small to large gardens, from individual gardens to Senior Citizens community garden all have had produce from their gardens. All are enjoying raising their own food and sharing it with others. Below are some pictures from the day:
 Harvested ready to can
 Back porch canning
 Don Storey and David 
 Sweet Potatos
Cole, Jesse, Gary, Sharon Byrant, David
Beautiful Bean
Hugh Pepper

A tomato without blight

 Renee McCoy, Gary, David
Raised bed of Cucumber @ Senior Citizens Housing

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Planning a Planting Experience, Red Bird Mission by Magan Meade

Week July 11-July 15, 2011
                Thanks to Pine Mountain Settlement, I have been inspired to plan a GROW Appalachia and Heifer International Community Picnic.  This would invite GROW Appalachia and Heifer International participants to bring a dish containing something from their garden or an animal product.  I know that one of the goals of GROW Appalachia has been to establish that sense of community that has recently been missing in the Appalachian community.  The current generation lacked a sense of ability to rely upon each other for assistance in each others' gardens compared to older generations.  I saw that Chad Brock, the field technician at Red Bird Mission for GROW Appalachia, was more than willing to spend his time assisting the gardeners but we also believed that the gardeners should be able to share experiences and methods with each other.  Also, if one of them needed a hand, they knew they could count on each other for help.  Therefore, this picnic would bring everyone together and hopefully inspire the staff to make this an annual event. 
                There is nothing better to bring a community together than food and hard work.  It is going to be an amazing night full of softball, cornhole, BINGO, insightful conversation and some delicious food.  Hopefully this event will bring together GROW Appalachia participants located within 80 to 85 miles from Red Bird Mission main campus.  I would also like to bring together a cookbook full of garden recipes from the GROW Appalachia and Heifer International participants that I can either, put together and give out to the participants or be able to sell as a GROW Appalachia fundraiser.  Another aspect that should attract participants to this event, are the prizes that can be won from playing BINGO.  Prizes would be available to all age groups and have been donated by Community Partners including Red Bird Mission, GROW Appalachia, Red Bird Crest Farm, and Bettina Balmer. 
                Another event that will be occurring at the Red Bird Mission for GROW Appalachia participants and other interested community members is a class on 4 Season Gardening taught by me, Magan Meade.  I have been researching this topic since I arrived to Red Bird Mission.  To potentially feed families throughout the whole year, is very exciting.  We are currently trying to implement a 4 season garden at Red Bird that includes cold frames, greenhouses, and plastic covered tunnels.  Surprisingly, people don’t realize how easy it is to extend the summer gardening season into the fall.  This includes sowing seeds every two weeks, rotating crops, and planting a variety for the same crop (because different varieties are harvested at different times).  The 4 Season Gardening class will be held on July 28th in the Cramer Room on the Red Bird Mission main campus.  I hope to inspire GROW Appalachia participants to continue harvesting the whole year versus during just the summer. 
                Speaking of harvests, it has been a narrow show up of sellers for the GROW Appalachia, Red Bird Mission’s Farmers’ Market.  I noticed that a lot of people did not participate in the market because they were beginning to can and store their summer’s harvest.  On Saturday, July 16th, Chad and his mother sold gigantic banana peppers, ripened green zucchini, and freshly picked green beans.  Within the first hour, the green beans had sold out.  I believe beans are a largely favored crop throughout Kentucky.  You can put those bad boys in a crock pot and cook them in some butter, ham, potatoes, and water overnight, yummy.  There is a huge demand for fresh produce but not enough sellers to go around.  This backs up the current demand to be in the GROW Appalachia for next year.  These next couple of weeks will be exciting times for the GROW Appalachia program due to the Four Season Gardening class, the community picnic, and much more! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer gardening at High Rocks

Hello from Pocahontas County, WV! I am interning at High Rocks for the summer and working with the High Rocks participant garden. As part of the two educational camps taking place during the summer, each of the girls is assigned a daily job. So, the gardens have been receiving some extra attention from the garden crew. During our first camp, Camp New Beginnings, there were four twelve-year-old girls who spent 45 minutes a day working in the rows up at the campground. I spent time in the garden with the girls planting melons, basil, tomatoes, building cucumber trellises, and attacking the weeds.
The second camp, Camp Steele, which is for girls who are in High School, is now underway and work time has been filled with harvesting garlic, cutting lettuce, cleaning out the green house, planting beets, peas, carrots, and hopefully we will plant some apple trees that were donated and grafted by Missy Westbrook, who worked for High Rocks a few years ago. Missy was one of the people who started the garden at High Rocks, which has now become a consistently producing vegetable heaven.
It has been fun, rewarding, and at times, challenging working with young people in the garden. Some of the girls come from gardening families and are well acquainted with garden work while others don’t come from a gardening background. During Camp New Beginnings, when the radishes were ready to harvest, the girl’s reactions were precious. Two of the girls hated radishes but ate them anyways because they were excited about pulling up fresh veggies and eating them then and there in the garden after wiping away some of the dirt. They were also thrilled when they found out that the radishes they helped to weed had been sitting on the salad bar the day before. Due to a water shortage, we were trying to avoid watering the garden and during the first hard rain some of the garden girls ran out to join me dancing in the rain. Sometimes on hot days a few of the girls complain about having to work out in the sun, or about hiking down the steep path to the raised beds and they ask why they have to garden. This question is answered during dinner when the girls are greeted with the huge salad bowl sitting on the table, and has sparked frequent discussions about why it is important that people grow and eat healthy local foods.  
 High Rocks is trying to increase the amount of locally sourced produce, eggs, meat, milk, cheese, etc. that we use at camp and during the year. Yesterday we went blueberry picking with all the girls and ended up with giant plastic bags filled with luscious berries. We made pancakes this morning, and froze a whole bunch of poundage which we will use during the year at tutoring and other educational events. The garden has been successfully supplying produce to the kitchen, and kitchen crew has said several times “Really, is it time to pick the beans again?” But the girls aren’t sick of it yet – and neither am I! Tons of High Rocks grown lettuce (tons really is not an exaggeration) and a good amount of herbs, radishes, garlic, cucumbers, beans, kale, broccoli and chard have made it into various dishes at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The squash, melons, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes are coming right along, and we are trying to be patient.
-Myra Morrison
During the first day of camp the girls painted signs to label the veggie rows in the garden.  The signs were a colorful addition to the space.
The second day they planted their signs and some melons. They were a very enthusiastic and energetic crew! 
Lauren gives the young lettuce plants some extra water

 Work was paused momentarily for a butterfly funeral. Everyone gathered around for the burial and a marigold was planted over the grave.
The High Rocks Campground Garden

The garden is located up on top of the hill in the campground . Above it lies the Cranberry Glades Overlook. In the mornings the mist hangs in the mountains and I can't think of a more lovely spot to be digging in dirt.

We trellised the cucumbers with some of the New Beginnings camp girls.

The squash plants are ready to be harvested.

The High Rocks campground garden and picnic shelter.

We found out that the broccoli does quite well here...we should definitely plant more of it next year! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Results being seen - St Vincent Mission, Gary Mitchell

Our participants are beginning to harvest some of their crops, peppers, beans, new potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, etc. Corn is starting to tassel.
We have had a couple of food preservation classes and our participants enjoyed themselves and learned a few things. The class was presented by Theresa Scott, FCS Agent, Floyd County Extension Service. Some said they were going to freeze more of their produce this year. It is quicker and easier they said. They learned that some of the old time methods of preserving are not as safe.
Food Preservation Class
Despite the wet and humid weather our gardens are doing very well. We are seeing growth and produce. Our gardeners are excited about what they are growing and what they have harvested. Some can't believe that they were able to grow their own food.

As we continue through the season we are seeing friendships forged and ideas shared. Some of our participants are becoming more social and opening up. Sharing and listening to each other helps to build relationships. Growing gardens is something we have in common whether you are a seasoned gardener of just a beginner, we all share a common goal,  being able to grow our own food for our families and to share with others. Grow Appalachia Project is helping our community, to be just that a community.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Meet some of West Virginia's Grow Appalachia Participants

July 19, 2011

Hello fellow gardeners, Appalachians, and other folks following the Grow Appalachia project!  I hope everyone has a nice swimming hole to escape from this July heat in!  This is Rachel writing from High Rocks Grow Appalachia site in Hillsboro, West Virginia.  With these warm sunny days, and evening rain storms all 20 of our participants’ gardens are thriving here in the Allegheny Mountains.  We invite you to meet a few of our participants below.

Aaron Lutz grew up gardening with his father, and as an adult has grown his own personal gardens for years.  This year he decided to try something new.  Aaron is growing produce to sell to the nearby National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s cafeteria chef.   The High Rocks Grow Appalachia team visited his garden last month, and spent the morning mulching and discussing pest treatment options with Aaron and his son. 

Aaron and his son Aiden mulch the squash.

Ski Poles:  A resourceful tomato stake!

Aiden and a helpful garden dweller!

We also stopped by to visit Tommy and Beth Peterson.  The Peterson’s are new to gardening, and moved to West Virginia to teach.  They expressed surprise at how easy gardening is.  That’s the beauty of a healthy garden with no pests, there’s not much work once it’s growing! 

Tommy and Beth Peterson with their first garden, and a shy dog named Fern.

High Rocks, the host site for Grow Appalachia in West Virginia, is a girls youth leadership program that offers a wide variety of programs throughout the year.  During the summer High Rocks runs two camps for middle and high school aged girls.  This year, thanks to Grow Appalachia, High Rocks has a garden in the campground which is supplying much of the fresh produce being eaten during camps.  Here are some photos of High Rocks girls working in the campground garden this June.

Erica, Paolo, and Asa Marks have expanded their garden this year with hopes of preserving more food for themselves for the winter.   We spent the day weeding with them in their garden, and talking about health and access to fresh foods throughout Appalachia, as well as negative stereotypes around Appalachians.  We dreamed up a positive documentary focusing on the positive histories of food in Appalachia, since there is sometimes a lot of focus on the negative sides of health and food culture here.  Too bad there isn’t much time for extra projects this time of year with all of these gardens to visit! 

New gardener, Asa, munches on a pea from the garden, while her mom Erica checks on the veggies.

Grow Appalachia AmeriCorps Members Corey Bonasso and Adrienne Jeurgens work on the far left and right, while Paolo and Asa Marks help in the middle.

Erica and Asa Marks check on their scarlet runner beans which have new trestles to climb thanks to Grow Appalachia AmeriCorps member Corey Bonasso.

Market Grower, Joe Heathcock, is starting a large scale farm this year with support from Grow Appalachia.  Joe has 20 families signed up to receive weekly baskets from his CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and is camping out in his fields some nights in an attempt to keep the deer away.

Proud grower of Kohlrabi

Joe gives Grow Appalachia AmeriCorps member Adrienne Jeurgens a tour of his crops.

Mmmmm.  Lettuce.

Other than site visits we’ve also been organizing and networking to get a great lineup of workshops for the Season.  July’s workshop was hosted and facilitated by one of our Grow Appalachia Community Gardens:  the Pearl S. Buck Museum’s Good Earth Garden.  The Workshop was entitled “How to Grow A Healthy Garden” and was an informal, in garden discussion of organic gardening techniques.  Good Earth Garden volunteers Joe Heathcock (same as above, he not only is running his own farm, he volunteers to coordinate this community garden as well!), Ginger Must, and Sue Groves.

Volunteer, Joe Heathcock, faces workshop participants and describes how to work with the specific soil conditions of your garden site.

Hard to tell who’s the teacher?  That’s the whole idea!  Everyone brought questions and suggestions to share.

The workshop moves to a shady spot to continue in an open discussion while we all munch on fresh peppers and cucumbers from the garden.

Our next workshop will be a canning demonstration, hosted at the Pretty Penny Cafe (a restaurant run by a High Rocks alumna that buys local foods from some of our Grow Appalachia participants).  We're excited to help making connections between producers and buyers, and to keep growing Local Foods in Pocahontas County.  

That’s the update from West Virginia for now, hope things are growing well in Kentucky, and beyond!

*Rachel Garringer

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gardeners Beginning to Harvest, Red Bird Mission by Magan Meade

Week 7/5/2011 through 7/7/2011
Robert Griffin’s garden, his enormous cabbages and behind that is the plot of beans that he had just harvested and planted radishes, which were already growing.
                After an amazing Fourth of July weekend at Red Bird Mission including the 90th anniversary of Red Bird, which hosted a huge concert with fireworks, we started to see the hard work of these gardeners pay off.  The 90th anniversary was an awesome time, although it was a humid and hot day.  The GROW Appalachia staff set up a booth at the event selling banana peppers, squash, and a variety of other fresh vegetables.  The bands that participated included the very well-known; Fireflight, Transform DJ’s, and Red Bird’s very own Kevin Wilson and Jason Dickerson from Filtered Red. 
                After the excitement of the weekend, GROW Appalachia had us doing some site visits to drop off canning supplies to first year participants.  After the turnout for the canning class and the informative instructions that had been given out, I believe people were excited and ready to save their harvests to get them through the tough winters here in the mountains.  

                We had a pretty productive day in getting lots of pictures and handing out the supplies.  The first receiver of the canning supplies was Natalia.  While we were at the Elderly Apartments, we took a look at their fantastic garden. 

We found Sue and Armilda having a bean snapping party on the bench next to the garden.  They were very proud of their bean harvest.  All of the beans looked so perfect, every one of the beans seemed the same length and size.  It gave me the comforting feeling of snapping beans that my grandpa gave us with my mom throughout my childhood. 

The women brought to our attention that they believe a bear has been vandalizing their garden.  I had to go and see the evidence myself since we don’t get very many bears in the Northern Kentucky area.  I saw the plentiful amounts of deer tracks, snapped limbs, and half eaten plants throughout the garden.  Then came the corn that had been snapped in half and pushed down.  Chad definitely knew it was a bear by the looks of it.  I quickly imagined what it would have been like to be there to see that bear playing in the corn. 

                Then we were quickly off to deliver the rest of the canning supplies, we knew it was going to be a busy day of deliveries.  We visited Chad and his mother’s garden, whom are a part of the GROW Appalachia program.  Chad’s garden was on the other side of a road across a creek. It was AWSOME!  I was a little scared to cross the creek because of the echoes of warnings of the different types of snakes down here.  Then we took a look at Chad’s mother’s garden whom was growing a variety of vegetables and he was excited to show us the large patch of watermelon growing in a field and he discussed with us his future plans of planting more crops next year. 

You can see the mounds of watermelon in a row and Chad actually went back later that day and tilled around these plants for weeds. 
Overall, everyone was pretty happy with receiving their new canners and jars from the GROW Appalachia program.  It’s always nice to hear how people really appreciate this program.  They are more than happy to show us their gardens and farm animals from the Heifer program.  One of the farms that we visited was across a deep creek, where we had to go across several low concrete bridges.   Chad mentioned that the locals have to cross the swinging bridges to get to the other side in case of floods.  To me, these bridges looked like something out of an action movie, where one step could be your last.  I look up to this mountain culture here, communities can pull together in emergencies and use the resources of the mountains to support themselves. 
                Back to the garden, this man ed salmons was out working in the summer heat and his garden had been neatly maintained.  He was more than happy to take a picture of the garden with himself in front of it.  He was also proud of his goats that were crying across the field.  He said, they were crying because they were ready to eat.  We walked down to the goat house and when he walked through that fence, the goats tails were wagging with happiness.  You could tell he really loved his goats and they liked him too.  He had about three or four babies to show off, in which one wasn’t used to the electric fencing, accidentally ran into it and shouted.  It was a great site to see that both of the programs, Heifer International and GROW Appalachia were becoming a support for resident s here in Appalachia and they had a pride for what they were doing.  To me, it is so exciting to see a society get back to it’s roots in agriculture! 

                The next stop that we made was an older man, Herbert Couch, who was also putting some hard work into his garden.  We took his picture with some of the tools that had been supplied by GROW Appalachia.  Chad was speaking with him and it seemed that his health had not been doing too well.  This hard work seemed to be a fuel source to some of the older participants.  They were hard workers, who loved their gardening and had more incites that any book could tell you on gardening. 
                Here at Red Bird, we are used to coming up with new resources to use in our gardens and one of the best that we have found is the Kentucky cane.  This resource looks like bamboo and most of it grows along the creek banks.  It is very flexible and we have used it for building our early childhood development teepee’s, the poles for the green beans to climb up, and I am planning on using it to build one of the cold frames for a four season garden. 
                Throughout this week, it seems that a lot of people are beginning to harvest their crops and starting preserving their fruits and vegetables.   It won’t be such a bad winter when the GROW  Appalachia participants will be eating garden fresh vegetables, jams, jellies, salsas, and pickled veggies while everyone else is rushing the grocery stores to stock up because of these harsh mountain roads. 
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