My name is Renae and I am an Americorps Vista member working on the Grow Appalachia program at High Rocks, in Pocahontas County, WV. I have lived in Pocahontas County for most of my life and been a participant in the High Rocks for Girls program just as long. I love to be outside working or just enjoying the fresh air. I worked in my Grandfather’s garden for several years and intend to continue to do so. His garden has an array of things like potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peas, carrots, beets and much more. I used to help an elderly neighbor with her garden, which consisted of mostly snap peas, three days a week when I was in high school. I have also assisted my grandmother who lives in Texas with her garden, and I know that the difference in climate can have a huge affect on what you can grow successfully and when. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science from Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, KY. I was gone for a few years while attending college and I am looking forward to getting to know my community again. While I have moved back to Pocahontas County, it is a different part and very different from the area that I lived before. I have spent time in both West Virginia and Kentucky and have firsthand experience of the hardships that fall onto the people there. I am very excited to start helping people to become for self reliant.
I have been spending countless hours researching so that we may overcome some of the problems that we ran into last gardening season. I have already learned some interesting things about weedless gardening and treating the soil from the top down. I am excited to start my own garden and see if it works. I also am doing research on how to fix our critter problems. I have been informed that there were a lot of problems with rabbits, ground hogs, deer and other animals getting into people’s gardens and eating the majority of what they were growing. There are several resources available that explain how to keep those critters away in a humane way, without hurting or killing them. I think that if we could improve the critter problem we could as much as double our results of food grown and families fed.
A community garden is a great way to bring people together and help folks get to know one another. High Rocks helped me get to know people when I was new to the community and now I hope to achieve the same thing for others through Grow Appalachia, while helping people to overcome the power that grocery stores have over them. If the community gardens are successful and we can get enough people involved in them, it would not only benefit the people as far as growing their own food and saving money, but also improve the quality of life in Appalachia. In our area the quality of life is pretty high, but there is always room for improvement, this means more happy people. The different areas of Pocahontas County and Greenbrier County are each their own little community. Through Grow Appalachia we could bring all of these communities together so that they do work together and are not so alienated from one another. I really feel that a lot can be accomplished through the Grow Appalachia program and that countless people will be touched by it.