Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Would You Like to Can Some Beans with Me?

Hello from Pocahontas County West Virginia!

     Gardeners throughout the county are sweating over stoves in kitchens and canning shacks, trying to preserve all of this local food before it spoils!  In hopes of providing some support during this frantic canning season High Rocks' Grow Appalachia program hosted a Canning 101 Workshop earlier this month.  The workshop was led by one of our local Extension Agents, Shirley Wilkins, and was held in the kitchen of The Pretty Penny Cafe in Hillsboro, WV which is owned and operated by Blair Campbell, a High Rocks alum and Grow Appalachia participant.

     Their was a great turn-out at the workshop, with participants ages ranging from early-20s to mid-60s!  Shirley Wilkins gave a thorough overview of the dangers of canning when done wrong, and then led two thorough and hands-on demonstrations.

   The first demonstration taught us step-by-step how to can tomatoes using a hot water bath.  The second demonstration taught us how to can green beans using a Pressure Canner.  We all worked together on preparing the veggies, sterilizing the lids, and all participants listened closely to Shirley's thorough instruction, not wanting to miss a thing.  The whole time I had a song by a great Texas band, The Carper Family, stuck in my head.  The song is called "Would you like to get some Goats with Me?" and has a verse about canning beans.  Next time we'll have to bring a CD player and listen to canning themed songs during the workshop!

Shirley Wilkins watches while Workshop Participants Blanch the Tomatoes

Workshop Participants Peel and Slice the Tomatoes.

Shirley Wilkins explains how to Put the Tomatoes in the Jars.

Participants Try!

Shirley describes the importance of getting the right head space, and demonstrates how to measure it.

Shirley explains the importance of putting jars into water slowly to prevent cracking.

Participants fill jars with raw green beans.

Another Workshop Participant gives it a try.

The finished product!

     We collected workshop evaluations from participants at the end of the day.  In response to the question "What did you learn from this workshop?" one participant wrote:  "I can do this!"  That is truly what we hope to accomplish through the Grow Appalachia program...helping people gain the confidence to grow, cook, share, donate, sell, teach about, and love their home-grown food!

     Hope you're eating well, wherever you are,

        Rachel and the High Rocks Grow Appalachia team

Friday, August 26, 2011

Learning about Life in the Appalachians from the Ground up - Pine Mountain, Kathleen Powers

First let me introduce myself, I am the new Community Agriculture VISTA at Pine Mountain Settlement School. I graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and history and promptly decided to throw my 4 years of college acquired knowledge out the window, and to instead jump into the field of community agriculture. I arrived at Pine Mountain several weeks ago from my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and became immediately immersed in the life of Pine Mountain and its rural Kentucky community.
 Over these first several weeks I have weeded and hoed gardens, planted fall crops, sprayed tomatoes for blight, tied up beans, and harvested numerous different vegetables, a far cry from the office work I would have been doing had I stayed in Minneapolis after graduation. I have learned to rototill a garden, build a chicken tractor, and hoe up corn. During the time spent in the car driving to different gardens, I learned how to safely pass a coal truck and how to navigate the roads based on the creeks they follow, rather than their listed names. While weeding a patch of corn I received language lessons that included the definition of a “holler”, a small valley between mountains, the proper way in which to pronounce words such as fire “far”, and tire “tar”, and the very helpful explanation of the term “I couldn’t care to”. This term is a common response when you ask someone for a favor, which really means that the person speaking wouldn’t mind doing said favor for you. Had I heard this without prior explanation I probably would have been somewhat hurt and confused at the blatant rejection of my request!
I have also seen first-hand that the people involved in Grow Appalachia are committed to the community and opportunities that the program provides them. Many families are eating the produce from their gardens on a daily basis, as well as finding different ways to preserve their harvest for the winter months. A number of families contribute to the weekly farmers market and the recent 100 Mile Pot Luck at Pine Mountain was a successful night of locally produced, home cooked food, good company, and games. At the potluck I listened to stories of families who work hard for what they have, but would never think of leaving their home here at Pine Mountain.
Though the skills I am learning everyday will be of great benefit to me, I think that the most important thing that I have learned is that the people of Pine Mountain and Grow Appalachia are friendly, accepting, eager to share their knowledge, and exceedingly selfless. Every day I look forward to meeting new families and hearing about the ways in which each person is contributing to the local foods movement in Eastern Kentucky. I can only hope that the rest of my VISTA year here will be as informative and interesting as the first few weeks have been. Hopefully by the end of this year I will know enough to teach others about the proper way to maintain tomato plants and what fall cover crops to plant, but for now I remain the eager and willing student, ready to assist in whatever way I can, and of course enjoying the bounty of fresh food that really does go directly from garden to table here at Pine Mountain.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Red Bird Notes--August 23, 2011

Red Bird Notes----Bettina Balmer
Fall is in the air even though officially it is still about a month away.  There are leaves falling and less humidity.  That cool crisp morning air is a refreshing change to the hot humid weather we have experienced here in the last month.  July’s Grow Appalachia meeting was all about fall gardening and overwintering crops. 
This stirred excitement among members and many signed up to receive seeds.  The seeds are on their way to gardeners to assist in extending their seasons and help decrease food costs. In this area fresh produce during winter months, is just about non-existent and what better way to improve families’ nutrition during these months than to have fresh greens, carrots and onions that can be harvested on even the snowiest days. 
            As we look forward to more trainings, August will bring a Good Agricultural Practices or (GAP) training to Red Bird on Thursday August 25th at 5:30pm.  Jeff Casada, Clay County ANR Agent will be presenting this workshop.  GAP training will provide participants with guidelines to reduce potential contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables.  After completing this class, participants will receive a certificate that will allow them to have raw samples of their fruit and vegetables at Kentucky Farmers Markets.
            Looking to September, Jeff Henderson, Jackson County ANR agent will be here on Thursday Sept 15th at 6:30pm to present a training about Farmers Markets.  This will provide participants information about not only growing for their own needs but what is possible to increase their families’ income by selling extra produce. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Build up you soil with cover crops this fall! ~Maggie Ashmore, Pine Mountain

 At Pine Mountain we encourage all of the Grow Appalachia families to plant a cover crop when they clear off their garden in the fall. Many gardeners around the area already plant cover crops, but those that were new to using cover crops were amazed at the results they received. Many gardeners found great beauty in the early green covering and later flowering of their gardens in the spring from oats, rye, peas, clover, and vetch. One gardener had a hard growing season during 2010, and felt that her garden soil was completely worn out from years of production. She planted crimson clover and rye on her garden last fall and has seen much better production this year from her garden. She does not use fertilizer, and believes that cover crops are saving her soil! 

Cover crops are usually planted in the late summer or early fall to cover the ground while food crops are not being grown.  Turn the crop over using a plow or shovel during the early spring and allow the organic matter to decompose for a week to three weeks before rototilling and planting seeds. Cover crops have many benefits:

1.       Improve soil quality: When the soil is allowed to lay bare during the traditional non-gardening months the soil surface seals together and water runs off during rains. Cover crops prevent this sealing of the earth and improve the soil structure. The root establishment over the winter months improves air and water infiltration into the soil, as does the decomposition of the organic matter after it is turned under. Earthworms and other soil organisms also thrive while the plants are decomposing.

2.       Erosion Control: Cover crops hold the soil in place during the late fall, winter, and early spring thus reducing erosion due to wind and water coming into contact with the bare earth.

3.       Increase soil fertility: Legume cover crops add nitrogen to the soil from the atmosphere due to their associations with nitrogen fixing bacteria. Non-legume cover crops can recycle excess nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium from the previous crop to the following crop. Why not try this instead of using the synthetic N-P-K fertilizer next spring?! When cover crops are turned under and allowed to decompose they slowly release the nutrients that they have taken up. This will add some micro nutrients not usually added to the soil through traditional fertilization plans.

4.       Suppress weeds: A dense stand of cover crop will reduce the amount of weeds that germinate in the fall due to shading. Some cover crops also release chemicals into the soil that will suppress other plants (weeds).
5.       Insect control: Beneficial insects may be attracted to cover crops plantings, such as lady beetles or ground beetles that eat pest insects. Flowering cover crops will also attract beneficial insects

6.       Subdue soil diseases and pests: Cover crops support beneficial soil microbes that can work against soil diseases and pests. Some cover crops may also produce compounds that suppress these problems.  

Hairy Vetch
Field Peas
Forage Turnips


Cover Crop
When to Sow
When to Turn Under

spring or fall
fall or spring
spring or fall
fall or spring
spring or summer
summer or fall

late spring or summer
summer or fall

spring or fall
spring, summer or fall


Spring or summer

Field Peas
Spring or fall

Forage Radish

Crimson Clover: Can kill weeds if planted in early fall, especially if it is planted with oats. Clover is great at increasing the nitrogen content of your soil. Crimson clover grows fast in cool fall and spring weather. Mow down the clover and turn under after flowering (nitrogen fixation occurs then).  Crop seeding rate is 10lbs per acre broadcasted. Or mix 1/3 clover and 2/3 rye grass or oats and broadcast at 25lbs per acre.

Hairy Vetch: Hairy vetch is a legume that can survive the winter. It is an excellent nitrogen fixer (maybe even better than peas!). Vetch is slow to establish, but is wonderful at suppressing weeds and improving soil quality. Some growers have found this plant to be invasive. Plant in late August through September. Mow down/turn under after flowering (nitrogen fixation occurs then). Broadcast 25-40lbs per acre.

Buckwheat: Buckwheat’s rapid growth smothers most weeds.   Buckwheat fits into the “green manure” category of cover crops because of its rapid breakdown which releases nutrients for the succeeding crop and fits into a tight vegetable rotation, such as when a crop is harvested prior to mid-July and a succeeding crop is not scheduled until fall. The breakdown of buckwheat improves soil structure and moisture holding capacity. If volunteer buckwheat is harmful in the succeeding crop, then the green manure crop of buckwheat should be destroyed before a large number of seeds mature. Buckwheat will germinate at temperatures ranging from 45° to 105°F.  Broadcast 70lbs per acre.

Oats: Oats are not winter hardy. Spring plant oats for a green manure. While fall plant oats and let them winter kill for a ground cover. Then turn under the oats before early spring plantings. Since oats are easily killed they work well in vegetable rotations. Oats are a great nurse crop for legumes, such as hairy vetch and peas. Broadcast 110-140 lbs per acre by itself. Broadcast 80lbs oats per acre with 40lbs vetch.

Winter Rye: Rye is a cold tolerant and can germinate in soil as cool as 34-40° F, making it a major fall-planted cover crop. Rye has a well-developed fibrous root system that reduces leaching of soil nitrogen. Plant in September through mid-October.  Broadcast 85-250 lbs per acre, depending on seeding date. The later in the season you plant rye, the more seed you will need to plant. Broadcast 60lbs per acre with 15lbs clover.

Annual Ryegrass: The extensive root system of this cover crop tolerates compacted soils and makes it an effective catch crop for excess nitrogen. It can also be used as a nurse crop with fall-planted legumes such as clover. Plant in early spring through late summer.  Avoid seeding this cover crop during hot, dry weather. Annual ryegrass can be interseeded between or over established vegetable crops. Broadcast seed when conditions are moist and before the canopy fills in. Plant in fall as a winter cover or as a nurse crop for clover. Broadcast 85-250 lbs per acre, depending on seeding date. The later in the season you plant rye, the more seed you will need to plant. Broadcast 60lbs per acre with 15lbs clover.

Field Peas: Field peas can be used as a spring cover crop to increase organic matter in the soil and fix nitrogen. In late summer, peas can be interseeded with oats to provide ground cover over the winter. For a spring cover crop plant in March-April. Plant with oats in late summer for winter cover. Nitrogen from the peas will aid the growth of the oats, which will frost kill and give ground cover over the winter. Broadcast 140lbs per acre. Seeding peas, oats and vetch together is a popular combination at 50lbs/140lbs/30lbs per acre respectively.

Forage Radish: Forage radish is a fall-seeded Brassica that is not winter hardy. This crop forms thick, white tap roots that can reach lengths of 8-14 inches, most of which are underground. Radishes are excellent at breaking up shallow layers of compacted soils. A thinner extension of the tap root can penetrate deeper layers of compaction. The roots die over the winter and leave channels so that the soil dries and warms up faster in the spring. Forage radishes also suppress fall weeds. Plant 4-10 weeks before first frost. Broadcast 13lbs per acre. Mustard and turnips are also popular cover crops, especially in our area. 

Information about cover crops for this blog has been found at http://www.hort.cornell.edu/bjorkman/lab/covercrops/index.php

Other cover crops resources:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Henderson Settlement Happenings' ~ Jackie Waldroop

Everyone keeps saying, " I smell Fall in the air"!
But you couldn't prove it by me , I still feel the heat of summer on my skin, especially when I am out in one of the gardens picking beans or tomatoes. We have been really busy with the gardens in the last couple of weeks. One of the county extension agents told us that our region of Kentucky was at least one month behind the rest of Kentucky in our growing season, because of all the rain we received in April. May and June. It may have taken longer for some of our gardens to start producing but we are beginning to harvest green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and corn.
Mindy and Shonda,  two of our first time gardeners.
We have already had two Canning Classes, during the first class we learned how to can green beans and how to safely use a pressure cooker. Each of the Grow Appalachia Participants received a Pressure Cooker and other canning supplies. We had our second canning class last week.
Rebecca Sharp with the Bell County Extension Office taught us how to can tomatoes using a boiling water canner. These canners are made of aluminum or porcelain-covered steel.They have removable perforated racks and fitted lids.

Rebecca shows  how to safely remove jars from the canner.
Mary Lou (Grow Appalachia,standing ) , Wilma, Nina, Brenda, and J.B.
are from the Frakes Community, Maggie (Grow), Sharon (Grow) and Lois (Grow)

Sharon prepares her tomatoes for canning
Everyone enjoyed the canning class so much, they asked if I would schedule another canning class.. Rebecca said that she would be delighted to come back to Henderson Settlement. In October she will be presenting a clas in how to Freeze and Dry. We will be making " Freezer Jam" yum yum!

Each Thursday from 4 to 7 we have our Farmers Market in the Big Red Barn on the hill.
Lois brought her homemade muffins

Sharon and her son Eric at the Farmers' Market


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Children and the Revival of an Appalachian Tradition- Red Bird Mission, Johauna Gosney

Autumn is right around the corner with crisps days and the falling of the leaves. This week canning equipment, measuring cups were given to first year participants. Many participants are hard at work canning. Potatoes will be coming in soon and will be added to the harvest.  Corns, beans, peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes were the popular crops for the summer. It was a good outpouring yield that overcame the temperamental weather.

A day spent in the ECD Garden

In the 1920s at Red Bird Mission, the dorm students who insisted on beans, the pinto variety at the meals helped with the canning and stringing. An education of gardening and food preservation through GROW Appalachia revives a great tradition on the Queendale Campus and in Red Bird’s tri-county service area.  The highlight of this week is a new garden site right outside the Early Childhood Development classroom. Chad Brock, GROW Appalachia Field Technician and other volunteers cleared and laid down mulch in a 20ft by 20ft space. Red Bird Crest Farm owned by Bettina and Dave Balmer donated plants and stone pavers for a path. Wood for fencing was donated from the Red Bird Mission Community Housing Improvement Ministry and Brock. 

Skipping on Stone Pavers

Time out on the wooden bench

Brock and other helping hands finished a path of stepping stones where the preschoolers like to skip and to explore the plants that their food comes from. Mrs. Shirley and the children, 3 and 4 year olds spent time outside in the garden once it was finished. In the garden is a wooden bench where the preschoolers can rest from skipping and soak up the sunshine. 

Examining the flowers
Getting children interested in a garden at a young age will encourage them to continue an outstanding Appalachian tradition of gardening and food preservation. As a Development intern for Red Bird Mission, I am pleased to share GROW Appalachia's outreach for former blog writer Magan Meade. Meade  and Fred Rweru, GROW Appalachia interns were great contributors to the program this summer.                                          

Intern insights - St Vincent Mission - Jessica Lasseter

My time at St. Vincent has been both enjoyable and wholly surprising. I came to this internship expecting simply a job; I come away having the great pleasure of knowing a community. See, I come from a rather large city and have never known the experience of a small town. After some getting used to, my eyes were opened to not only how the staff at St. Vincent cares about each other and the citizens they serve, but how the citizens care about one another. I have had the joy of sitting in the second hand store and hearing siblings and neighbors talk and banter while taking the time to check in on the latest concerns they have. I have had the pleasure of speaking with participants that ask about how this person or that person are doing, truly caring about the answer. Even if I had not had these enjoyable moments, to walk in and see a prayer board with names written in ever hand writing would have been enough to show the love the citizens of this community have for one another. Of course, no community is perfect; however I have met more kind hearts and gentle souls in working through this internship than I have in any other three month span of my twenty-one years.
            My most cherished memories not only come from the second hand store, but the Grow Appalachia gardening program, the original reason I came. The best parts of my summer were going out to see people’s gardens, even when the weather was making the growing hard, seeing the pride on the gardener’s face made my day every time. I took delight in seeing the gardens of children and watching them light up when they talked about what they had done. Home visits were not the only times Grow Appalachia brought joy to the participants, I fondly remember many second hand store mornings when the garden was the topic of discussion, hearing the wisdom of experienced gardeners being passed down so casually was an experience I will not soon forget. However, doing interviews with the gardeners has to have been my favorite part of the entire summer. Hearing the candid and profound answers to the simple questions such as “why do you garden,” has been both humbling and exhilarating. I will openly admit I have called home to share what the interviewees said, almost every evening.
            My time at St. Vincent has been enjoyable, entertaining, educational and memorable. This experience has solidified my desire to become a social worker, while at the same time giving me new perspective for that future career. I would not trade this summer for any other, and I pray that the citizens and staff I have encountered know just how amazing they truly are.        

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Peaches in the Summertime - Apples in the Fall

Trees are heavy with fruit up here in the Allegheny Highlands as we approach the season of ripening.  Thanks to adequate rainfall last year and no late frost in the spring, we are expecting to harvest a major heap of apples, many of which are heirloom varieties planted three generations back.  From peach preserves and cobbler to apple butter, sauce and pie the fruit is only useful when its gathered, and there is no shortage here.  We haven't planted many fruit trees this year, but have considered taking cuttings from certain heirloom varieties and grafting them onto standard root stock.  This would be an affordable way to grow a larger number of trees at a time and hold on to these rare apple varieties.  We would name this portion of the program "throw apples atch'ya".

 One of our participating garden sites is in Hillsboro, WV at the birthplace of Pulitzer Prize winning author Pearl S. Buck.  High Rocks has found a great opportunity to partner with the museum at the Pearl S. Buck's house through Grow Appalachia to create a community garden space.  The garden has been named after her award winning novel The Good Earth, and is home to an orchard that features over 30 varieties of apple trees.  The Good Earth Garden site hasn't been cultivated in over thirty years, but is extremely fertile and productive.  All the produce grown at this site has been donated to our local food pantry through a program called "Plant A Row for the Hungry".  This garden has also become a great location to host workshops including one titled "Growing a Healthy Garden" where market growers in the community came to share their gardening secrets and wisdom about soil health and pest defense.  Next month the birthplace will host a workshop on seed saving and heirloom gardening.

Aside from orchard dreaming, Grow Appalachia participants are making use of this cooler weather to spend time canning the surplus from their gardens.  We recently partnered with the county extension agent to host  a workshop on canning safety.  The workshop was well attended and participants learned the proper method to preserve their produce without risk of contamination.

We're planning to continue with site visits through the coming months to help out with harvests and canning.  We are looking forward to the gathering later this fall in KY, so we can all celebrate our hard work of the season.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sharpening Your Garden Hoes - Pine Mountain, Marshall Tolliver

Well we’ve finally reached the point where a simple job that has been in the back of our minds is finally coming to light – the sharpening of our garden hoes. It’s late in the season and chances are, your garden hoes (and other tools also) may need a good check-up. As we get ready to sharpen ours we thought we’d bring it everyone’s attention. Instead of leaving you hanging with dull, nicked hoes, we’ll also (hopefully) explain what to do about it toward the end of this post. 
Here at Pine Mountain we have several chopping hoes (also called draw hoes) (left), a diamond hoe (right), and a stirrup hoe (bottom). 

It's really worth noting that our chopping hoes are not from a hardware store or catalog. Instead our chopping hoes are special in that they are made by our local blacksmith, J.D. Napier. At his place you will find countless objects and machinery amongst a handful of anvils scattered around his furnace and overhead billows. However, in visiting him, all this is very much overshadowed by the massive waterwheel fed by a tank filled from a stream that he has attached a large hammer to. As the water turns the wheel the hammer raises and falls, making hammering the hot steel much easier. He uses saw blades to make the blades for the hoes, along with roof bolts, normally used in coal mining, to attach the blades of the hoes to the handles. If you would be interested in supporting a local craftsman, along with getting a hoe that will truly stand up under time and pressure that many years of gardening will entail, contact us for more information. We’d be more than happy to give you more information about these quality tools!
Chopping hoes are the most commonly used type of hoe because you can dig furrows, cover seeds, weed plants, hill them, and dig those same plants up at the end of the season. I can probably count on one hand the trips to the garden I’ve made without a chopping hoe with me; if not for working then as a precautionary measure against copperheads and rattlers. Because of their prominence, we’ll deal with sharpening these hoes specifically. 
The basics are very…well…basic. The only things you’ll probably need are a good mill file and some steel wool. 
  • The first thing you’ll want to do is remove any rust from around the cutting edge (with the steel wool). 
  • This would be an opportune time to go ahead and secure the hoe is some manner, whether clamps or vise, whatever you may think of to keep it from moving while you’re working on it. 
  • Next remove, the best you can, any nicks along the edge by running the file back and forth across the top of the edge, parallel with the blade.
  • Before we move on it’s important to notice the bevel on the blade. Most chopping hoes are beveled only on one side. It is very important to only sharpen the beveled edge (see illustration below). 
      Another important variable that those who have done any sharpening should know about is what angle                 aaaithe edge should have. In short sharpening at a steep angle gives a more durable edge; sharpening at a aiiiiilow angle gives a sharper edge.
  • Once you have throughly filed the beveled edge it's time to "feather the burr." What that means is to take off the tiny part of the blade that has fallen over (on a very, very small scale) to the other side. To do this take your file and lay it flat on the back (non-beveled) side of the hoe. Keeping it flush against the hoe. 
  • After you've done this lightly run the file on the beveled side, just to freshen it up!
     There you have it, a freshly sharpened chopping hoe! Don't worry if it won't split a hair, it's really meant to cut tough roots and slice through dirt. 

The above information is abbreviated and adapted from Tool Sharpening Basics from Mother Earth News. 
Thanks everyone, God bless and happy sharpening!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Red Bird Mission’s 1st Annual Community Picnic for GROW Appalachia and Red Bird Farmer’s Project Participants by Magan Meade

August 1st-5th, 2011

                This event was planned by myself, Magan Meade and Fred Rweru, the GROW Appalachia interns of Red Bird Mission.  We were carefully guided by Bettina Balmer, the Coordinator for the GROW Appalachia program for Red Bird.  Undergoing the planning for this event is a lot more effort than one would think.  Donations were given by the GROW Appalachia, Red Bird Farmer’s Project, Red Bird Mission and Bettina Balmer and her husband with Red Bird Crest Farm.
                August 5th, 2011 was a busy one for the GROW Appalachia program, as we had a guest from Eastern Kentucky University, Karrie Adkins, the Program Coordinator for Regional Stewardship.  She is the person in charge of appointing Fred and I to our intern positions here at Red Bird.  We wanted to make sure that Karrie was able to experience how much Red Bird is contributing in all of its programs and not just GROW Appalachia.  The community store and the craft store were the first places we took Karrie to show her Red Bird’s unique qualities.  The community store sells low price items to the community from all over the country and the craft store allows a place for local artisans to display their unique crafts for sale.  Not only does this craft store give locals another source of income but also provides an identity for the Appalachian community, which is also some of the goals of GROW Appalachia. 
                Next, we were off to the GROW Appalachia garden sites through highway 2000, a mostly one lane road in the mountains of Appalachia.  If you want a true glimpse at Appalachia, I recommend this highway.  The first stop we made was at Brenda Burnette’s.  Her garden was centered in a valley across the street from her home.  She had potatoes as far as the eye can see.  She claimed that her tomatoes were not doing too good and that she had harvested most of her crops in the early summer before the spring plants got too hot in the later summer days.  She was a very nice lady and more than happy to have us look in her garden.
Pine View Farm

Pine View Farm Market

                Another place that we decided was important to show Karrie, in order to know more about this area, was the Pine View Farm, where we bought most of our plants for GROW Appalachia. It was a long drive to get to but was well worth the trip.  Upon arrival, you can see the beautiful petunias in a row mixed with pinks and purples.  When entering their market, the smell of fresh fruits tickles your nose.  It smelt amazingly sweet.  When examining the market, there was a fluttering of stories among us about what our grandparents or parents used to make from their gardens, which was on display in the market; salsas, jams/jellies, honey, different sorts of chow chow and so on.  We can also relate to the participants’ gardens and how they use so many family recipes and traditions for their fruits and vegetables.  After the Mennonite Garden, we stopped at Roselean Wagers garden, whose daughter, Denise was doing just that.
Wagers' canned goods

                She showed us her different plots of gardens and all of her beautiful flowers and fruit trees.  Her property was sitting on a spot, where they had removed the mountain top for coal mining.  Her family had transformed it into a spot, where she can now raise her gardens.  She was insistent about inviting us in to exhibit her canning that she had done from the garden.  It may seem weird but it was a beautiful thing to see how much these gardens contribute to someone’s food supply.  I can’t imagine traveling on Highway 2000 in the middle of the winter-time, I just don’t see how it’s possible. 
Some more canned goods by the Wagers

Some cucumbers ready for pickling out of the Wagers garden

                The end of our visits consisted of Bettina Balmer and her church’s garden.  She is a woman that knows what she is doing.  She even constructed a raised bed for her little neighbor, Mackenzie, which was beautiful and she was so proud of.  The butterflies really enjoyed it too.  Bettina had a lot of the crops I talked about in my Four Season Gardening presentation and more.  She was one of our major sources for our Farmer’s Market.  She told us that she mainly wants to focus on red raspberries for her business, which she showed us up on the hill.  Red raspberries are my absolute favorite! Fruits could do really well with the GROW Appalachia participants because a lot of market purchasers look for sweets.  Also, berries do very well in the mountains.
Mackenzie's garden

Bettina Balmer's red raspberries

                Even though the tour was a very great way to spend our day, we had tons to do back at Red Bird for the Community Picnic.  As soon as we got back, we set up everything and we were surprised with early participants.  I believe this showed the excitement for this event.  Pretty soon, everyone was arriving, bringing their fantastic garden dishes which included; garden tomatoes, various types of corn salad, bowls of chili with peppers including habanero, various types of green beans, sauerkraut, pickled beets, and much more.  Also some of the participants brought spearmint tea, which was gone after a few seconds, and fresh milk from their cows.  I felt so blessed to be a part of their great feast.  I can’t believe how good the cooking is down here!  I heard great conversations about sharing equipment and various methods people use on their farms and making new contacts/friends.  I knew that we were reaching one of our goals that GROW Appalachia had set out to do, this was the whole purpose of this event.  Participants brought their family recipes and shared excitement at trying to make each other’s dishes.  I’m hoping that they will use the recipes as a fundraising book for GROW Appalachia or maybe just share among the participants.  Then we ended the night with door prizes and some BINGO. 
The potluck from the garden

Gardeners/Farmers ready to eat

Esther Mason's fresh cow milk

               I just want to say in my last post, that I was very blessed to have this opportunity to be working with remarkable people.  They were more than willing to invite us inside when we arrived to their gardens and share their food.  I really hope that I made a good contribution to this program and through this blog, I was able to exemplify the effect that GROW Appalachia has on families in the Appalachian region, more specifically around Red Bird.  Again, these are great people.  Thank you!