Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recipes from Red Bird Mission's Grow Appalachia Participant's

This week I have been compiling all of our Recipes from our participants, putting our lending library together, and reviewing 2012 applications. I  have decided to share a couple of these recipes on this blog.

 Chad Brock

Zucchini Bread

       1   ½ cups all purpose flour
1         teaspoon ground cinnamon
½               teaspoon baking soda
½   teaspoon salt
¼   teaspoon baking powder
¼   teaspoon ground nutmeg
1    egg, beaten
1    cup sugar
1    cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini
¼   cup cooking oil
½   cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease the bottom and ½ inch up the sides of a 8x4x2 inch loaf pan; set aside.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside. In another medium bowl, combine egg, sugar, shredded zucchini and oil.  Add zucchini mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy).  Fold in nuts.  Spoon batter into prepared pan.
 Bake 50-55 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for ten minutes. Remove from pan.  Cool completely on a wire rack, then serve.

Herbert Couch

Spicy chili

1 can - Zesty chili style diced tomatoes
1can- whole tomatoes
1 packet- chili seasoning mix
1 small onion diced
1 ½ hot pepper (habanero) devein and deseed
½ green bell pepper, diced
1 Serrano pepper diced
1 can- dark kidney beans
1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey

Brown meat in skillet. Then add onions and peppers and sauté them all together. Drain off grease.
Add to pot with tomatoes and seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat let simmer ten minutes stirring occasionally. Add kidney beans last five minutes. Serve with toppings of Cheese or sour cream

Tracy Nolan

Corn Salad

2 cans- whole kernel corn
½ green pepper, diced
½ red pepper, diced
½ red onion, diced
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 bag of Frito’s chili corn chips

Heat corn and drain well.  Add salt and pepper. Mix peppers, onions.  Stir in mayo.
Crush Frito chili chips up and add to corn salad when ready to eat.

Bessiline Griffin

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Small, Limited Resouce, Minority Farmers Conference Chad Brock -- Red Bird Mission

Last Tuesday me and Grow Appalachia participant Richard Mason were given the opportunity to attend the “Small, Limited Resource, Minority Farms Conference” at Kentucky State University in Frankfort. This opportunity was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Clay County Extension Office/Clay County Ag Development Council and Red Bird Mission’s Grow Appalachia and Red Bird Farmers Project programs. We spent two days in tracks learning the many valuable resources available for small farmers in Kentucky. We also had time to speak with other farmers and find out what they were doing with their farms and what kind of problems and successes they have had.  I learned a lot of new ideals for planting and some helpful hints on Farmer’s Markets. We also learned of ways to create income from your forested property from timber improvement grants to cultivating medicinal plants such as Golden seal and Ginseng that can be sold annually.
Small Farmers conference at Kentucky State University

Small Farmers conference at Kentucky State University

 Small Farmers conference at Kentucky State University

 Small Farmers conference at Kentucky State University

Harvest Display on KSU campus

Farmers conference at Kentucky State University

some conference particpants back at the Capital Plaza Hotel

Red Bird Mission Grow Appalachia Field Worker
Chad Brock At Capital Plaza Hotel

Conference Banquet and awards ceremony

Conference Banquet and awards ceremony

Thursday, November 17, 2011, Red Bird Mission held a workshop on Exploring Entrepreneurship for Grow Appalachia participants and members of the Red Bird Farmers Project. The speaker Ian Mooers, is the Executive Director for the Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology at Eastern Kentucky University. He explained what entrepreneurship is and explored real possibilities for some of our farmers.   He discussed recognizing opportunities to start a business and what resources are available and provided participants with handouts on how to develop a business plan.  He encouraged farmers to contact him for an individualized discussion, as these and many more services are free.  He shared information about many of the free services available through the Kentucky Small Business Development Center.  We had twenty five participants come to the workshop which was a pretty good turnout.

To learn more about the EKU Center for Economic Development Entrepreneurship and Technology services go to http://www.cedet.eku.edu/, or contact Ian Mooers at ian.mooers@eku.edu

To learn more about the Kentucky Small Business Development Center’s free planning, consulting and training services you can go to http://www.ksbdc.org/ and click “resources”.

Other business resources: MACED http://www.maced.org/   The New Horizons Project provides financing and technical assistance to existing or startup businesses in Kentucky’s 54 Appalachian counties.  The goal is to create employment opportunities for low-income people.

Jeff Casada, the Clay County Extension Ag Agent also shared training and grant opportunities in the County.  There is a grant to assist with registration to the upcoming SSAWG Conference in Arkansas.  He requested feedback from our participants to help develop the next 4 year plan for the Extension office to meet community adult educational needs. Last he discussed that Clay County has been approved for CAIP (County Agriculture Investment Program) funding.  Advertisements will be in the local newspaper soon.

After the work shop we distributed fruit trees to participants who had requested them. Participants were very thankful for the trees and overall well pleased with the workshop.

Jeff Casada Clay County Ag agent
Jeff Casada giving Rodney Caldwell a handout

Ian Mooer
workshop presenter

Workshop Presenter, Ian Mooer and some of our participants

Henry and Georgia Ledford
Grow Appalachia Participants

left:Tracy Nolan ,Director of Community Outreach at Red Bird Mission/Grow Appalchia Technical Support
right: Jeff Casada                                                                                              
Field Worker,
Chad Brock

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pretty in Pink? ~ Pine Mountain, Maggie Ashmore

This past spring I stopped in a local farm supply store to buy more Peaches N’ Cream corn seed for Grow Appalachia families.  As I scanned the shelves for the seed I was looking for, I soon realized that all of the sweet corn seed was bright pink! This startled me, and it took me a minute to figure out why the seed was dyed.

I had forgotten that many seeds are treated with fungicide to help fight disease and increase yield. As a child, my parents conventionally raised corn and soy beans, and I can remember being drawn to the hot pink corn seed. Pink was my favorite color, you see. My parents, however, always kept us kids away from the seed and warned us that it would hurt us if we touched it. Since my parents switched to organic practices when I was pretty young and I have been buying almost all of our Grow Appalachia seed from companies that specialize in open-pollinated, untreated, heirloom seed I had completely forgotten about treated seed.

Warning label on bag of donated seed that I received
After my brief encounter with pink sweet corn seed at the store, I promptly forgot about treated seed again, until some seed was donated to the Pine Mountain Grow Appalachia project from a local mission organization. When I excitedly responded to their offer of free seed with a “Yes” it never occurred to me that the donation would arrive as pink seeds in bags adorned with the skull and cross bones. This thoughtful donation brought up a dilemma for me: should I give out these seeds?  It was absolutely wonderful to receive free seed, but I felt uncomfortable giving families something with a poison label. On the other hand, it felt wrong to throw away a generous donation that would produce food. Should I portray Grow Appalachia as a project that gives out treated seed?

How to know if you seed is treated:
  • You can recognize chemically treated seed because, by law, the seed must be dyed
  • The kinds of seed that are normally treated with one or more pesticides are corn, peanuts, cotton, sorghum, wheat, oats, rye, barley, millet, soybeans and most vegetable seed

So why are seeds treated in the first place? Seeds may be treated with fungicide to prevent seed problems such as:
  • Seeds rotting before they germinate
  •  The rotting on seedling stems near the ground and water soaking on seedling tissue (damping-off and seedling blight)
  • Seedling wilt (gray coloration starting at the leaf tips and extending rapidly to the whole leaf, causing complete collapse of seedlings in 24 to 28 hours).
  • Rotting of seedling roots

Alternatively, some seeds may be treated with insecticides to keep beetles and moths from feeding on seeds.

Additional reasons why farmers use treated seed:
  • Treating seed has the potential to lower the environmental impact of conventional farming since pesticide treatments are applied directly to the seed, and the chemicals do not drift over a field.
  • Seeds and seedlings are generally more vulnerable to diseases and insects than mature plants. Applying treatments to seeds allows pesticides to be present when needed most.
  • Seed treatments are relatively easy and cheap to apply compared to broadcast sprays.

Disadvantages of treating seed:
  • Coats the seed with synthetic fungicides, such as with the chemical Captan. Captan is a pesticide found to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Although banned in 1990, an exception was made for some specific crops, and for its use as a seed treatment.
  • Inhalation of aerosols and skin contact with seed treatments must be prevented in the seed treatment process. Do not breathe dust or fumes from treated seed or allow it to get in your eyes or on your skin.
  • Accidental poisoning. Treated seed looks like food to some animals. Hungry livestock that find carelessly handled treated seed will probably eat it. Birds, such as pheasants or quail, may consume spilled treated seed. Even young children may find and eat improperly stored treated seed.
  •   Treated seed also makes me feel under the control of large seed companies. Too many growers are dependent on patented seed and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. I believe that we need to focus on using as few external inputs on the farm/garden that we can.  

There are organic ways to prevent seed disease and increase yields:
  • Natural seed treatment and root growth promoters formulated with macro and micro nutrients, amino acids, organic acids, root growth stimulants, enzymes, proteins, vitamins minerals and beneficial microbes.
  •  Buy certified seed, which is checked for the presence of certain seed borne diseases.
  • Practice crop rotation which reduces the populations of many insects and pathogens that survive in soil or crop residue.
  •  Maintaining appropriate soil fertility can reduce disease pressure. The lack of micronutrients, such as chloride, and an excess of major nutrients, such as nitrogen, can favor certain diseases.
  •   Planting crops around the correct date decreases the severity of some root rots, certain insects, and some insect-borne viruses.
  • Soaking seed in hot water can eliminate fungi and bacteria that cause common diseases. Be sure to look up correct procedures before attempting this to avoid damaging your seed.

Ok, so I bet you are wondering what I decided to do with the donated, treated seed. I gave out most of the seed to Grow Appalachia families and other community families, and then I disposed of the rest, instead of storing it over this winter for use next year.  I did not think I could throw free food away, but I will ask in the future whether the seed is treated when organizations offer to make donations to the program. As a program focused on sustainable agriculture and organic growing, I would like to avoid the distribution of treated seed (even if it is free).


Friday, November 11, 2011

Tool Care for Winter Storage -- Pine Mountain, Kathleen Powers

       As most all of our participants’ gardens have been cleared off and planted with cover crop for the season, we have been focusing on cleaning and preparing for the winter. After several hours spent sweeping, organizing, and generally tidying up our storage room we decided it was time to clean all of our hand tools and put them to bed for the season. Over the past few years the coordinators of PMSS Grow Appalachia have made a point of purchasing good quality tools that will last for a long time, rather than buying new cheap tools every year. These tools are mostly hand-made and hold up well with consistent use; however, we also know that the life of these tools depends on our care of them, so we have been putting in the little bit of extra work it takes to ensure our tools are in good condition and ready to work next spring. The weather early this week was so wonderful that we were looking for any excuse to get outside and tool cleaning gave us the perfect opportunity!

Here are the steps we took to care for our hoes, digging forks, shovels, etc.:

1.) Because many of the tools were caked in dirt from working in muddy conditions we first washed them with water and a rag and let them dry for a bit in the sun.

2.) Then we had to address the issue of rust, several of our hoes were getting very rusty so we used steel wool to scour the blades (not all the rust will come off, but we were at least able to smooth out the really rusty spots).
Rusty hoe before

Less Rusty hoe after scouring with steel wool

3.) We then applied vegetable oil to the metal surfaces of all of our tools to keep rust from forming during the winter. Applying vegetable or linseed oil is supposed to keep moisture from accumulating on the blades, which in turn prevents rust.

4.) Lastly we had several new hoes and digging forks with untreated wood handles that needed some attention. For these new tools we used linseed oil to coat the entirety of the wood handles. To do this you can simply use a brush or rag to apply a layer of oil to the wood and then let the tools dry. The oil will be completely absorbed into the wood and will protect it from water damage.

Many of our tools are purchased from Earth Tools, a small, locally owned business that sells hand forged, good quality tools. You can find them at:

1525 Kays Branch rd.
Owenton, KY. 40359

Or online at:

If you would like more information on this subject this is a good article about proper tool care: http://www.demesne.info/Garden-Help/Garden-Tool-Care.htm

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Getting ready for spring 2012

Here at Red Bird Mission we have been spending our time compiling 2011Grow Appalachia participant’s info into personalized folders putting gardens to bed and preparing for the 2012 growing season. We had been working on our proposal and timeline for next year and deciding exactly what all we could do with the Grow Appalachia program in 2012. Our hopes are high and our challenges are huge but with dedication and lots hard work, I am sure we will be successful.

We constructed four 4ft by 8ft raised beds and delivered them to the Girl Scout garden at Red Bird Mission School. Their garden will now consist of six 4ft by 8ft raised beds, and also a nine hundred sq.ft. plowed area and they intend on planting a 2000sq.ft pumpkin patch and will sell pumpkins at the Red Bird Farmers Market next year. This group of students are really showing great interest in gardening and are seeing the benefits of growing their own food as well as an opportunity to create income by marketing what they produce.

The Early Childhood Development garden (for 2-5 year olds) that we constructed this year has inspired a new curriculum to be added to their schedule.

P.L.A.N.N.T (Preschoolers Learning About Nature & Nutrition Together) is a garden enhanced curriculum designed for children three to five years of age and has three main goals.

  1. Increase children’s environmental awareness and stewardship through gardening and garden related activities.
  2. Increase children’s nutritional and health awareness through gardening and garden related activities.
  3. Increase children’s life skills and academic achievements and outcomes through gardening and garden related activities.

P.L.A.N.N.T will require that children be given 15min. each day to explore in their garden, Monday will be a garden check day where they will be assisted in finding any problems and trying to correct them and  a raw vegetable snack will be provided for the children to try each Friday.

This program will allow them a hands on learning setting that will greatly increase the children’s ability to utilize their class garden this spring and allow the Grow Appalachia staff an opportunity to work with them more often.

Anyone interested in this program can contact
Ruth Ann Shepard
Ky. Dept. of Public Health

Field worker,
Chad Brock

Friday, November 4, 2011

JB and the Atlantic Giant

I heard a great story this morning from Crystal Shepherd, an employee here at St Vincent Mission and a farmer who tends about twelve acres for food for her family and a bit to sell. Her six year old son, JB grew an Atlantic Giant pumpkin this year. He is a savvy young man who knows the value of his crop. He carved his 75lb pumpkin-saving the seeds-and took it to the local general store to show it off. The man who owns the store told JB that if he grew pumpkins next year he’d buy one. Well because he’d read the seed catalogues this young entrepreneur knew his product and told the store owner he would sell him some seeds so he could grow his own pumpkins next year. When the store owner replied, “you mean you won’t give me some seeds?” JB said, “Nope, but I’ll sell you some.”
JB has already decided to plant a “pumpkin bottom” next year and his parents are all for it. The Shepherd family has been growing their own food for generations and while their neighbors know they can help themselves to the field if they need it, the Shepherds also have regular “customers” who come looking to buy corn, sweet potatoes, cabbage and more. They are teaching their children the same values they have been taught and that mountain families have known for generations. You won’t go hungry if you work the land.
Crystal told me that she learned everything she knows about farming from her mother-in-law and she is passing that wisdom on at home. She also said that her children are learning about planting, cooking and saving home grown produce in their school in Magoffin County and that they have a great FFA group there where kids are excited about farming, raising cattle and even keeping bees. She is glad that her kids are learning how to be self sufficient. “It’s hard work”, she says, “but you have to feed your family.”
Crystal is an inspiration and I am blessed to have her close at hand as a resource. And I am very interested in following the career of young JB and his pumpkin patch. I might even have to buy some of his seed.
Kathy Curtis, OSB

EAT REAL FOOD! -- Pine Mountain, Kathleen Powers

          Alright everyone, pardon my rant for the next several minutes we have decided that our blog this week will tackle a subject that I am very passionate about, REAL FOOD. I’m going to try my best to provide an informative post that will inspire you all to think about what you eat without preaching, because I know for a fact that no has a perfect diet and I in fact consumed an embarrassing amount of candy and highly processed sugar in the past several days, all in the name of Halloween. But back to the point, what is real food? I’m not sure that very many people even know what real food looks like these days and it certainly isn’t what you get at McDonalds, or what you find in the frozen food isle at Food City.
            The majority of us eat a large amount of food that comes packaged from the grocery store and is filled with preservatives, sugar, salt, and sadly just plain old chemicals. Over time our bodies and taste buds have been conditioned to accept and enjoy the taste that these additives provide, so much so, that we don’t even know what real food tastes like anymore. It certainly doesn’t help that large food corporations market synthetic products as healthy alternatives to real food (margarine vs. butter, sugar replacements in diet soda, low fat…..EVERYTHING). Sadly these additives which we have come to enjoy and crave have been proven to contribute to the development of cancer, asthma, hyperactivity, heart damage, obesity, diabetes, and endless other debilitating and fatal health problems that many Americans suffer from.
            When we eat real food, not only do we avoid these problems, but we receive many health benefits that just can’t be gained by eating processed foods. Hundreds of vitamins, nutrients, healthy fats, and antioxidants are just waiting for us to eat them in the form of fresh healthy foods. For example, the healthy fats found in nuts, avocados, leafy green vegetables, and fish play an important role in the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems.  Several benefits of consuming healthy fats include, improved brain function, increased ability to fight infection, and a greater chance for normal development in children. Oats contain beta-glucans, which stated simply help the body fight off bacteria and other sickness causing viruses. Whole milk provides necessary fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and 22 minerals, which have been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Bananas contain potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin B6, they help to keep you full, regulate digestion, and increase bone health. See where I’m going with this? Breakfast! Why not swap out your morning donut or bagel for a bowl of oatmeal topped with a bit of whole milk, some sliced banana, and a handful of nuts? I’m pretty sure you can’t say no after learning about all the great benefits these foods provide you with!
But most everyone will probably read this and then go grab a bag of cheetos for an afternoon snack, which brings us to the biggest challenge, how do we get people to care? Part of the mission of Grow Appalachia is to provide real and healthy food and educational opportunities to people in Central Appalachia, however we have recently realized that before we greatly increase our efforts to provide food and education, we have to find a way to get people interested in these issues. How do you make someone want to eat good food when they are perfectly happy with what they have, and how do you make people care about the local foods movement when organic local products are more expensive and taste so different because they lack the aforementioned additives that we have come to enjoy? As of now we can’t answer these questions, I guess we just have to try our best and hope that slowly the passion for real food will catch on, and in the meantime we will make our Grow Appalachia cookbook in the spirit of real, local, healthy food, and hope that you all will help us and find your own passion for great food.

So PLEASE send us your wonderful recipes, we know they are out there, and make yourself something real for dinner tonight!

Carrots, sugar snap peas, and pecans sauteed in honey and butter
Here are several real food recipes we have been using lately with our late season crops and cellar stored foods

Kale Chips
Preheat oven to 300° F

Wash and pat dry as much Kale as you want to use

Toss kale with enough olive oil to coat

Sprinkle kale with salt

Line cookie sheets with wax paper and lay out kale in a single layer on the wax paper

Bake for about 20 minutes until kale is crispy

Enjoy your healthy and tasty (I swear they really are good) snack!

Sweet Potato Fries

Preheat oven to 400° F

Slice up as many potatoes as you want in fry shape (I leave the skin on the potatoes, it makes preparation easier and the skin is the healthiest part of a potato!)

In a cake pan toss the potatoes with enough olive oil to coat

Sprinkle with any desired seasoning (I like to use a mixture of sea salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, and curry powder)

Bake for at least 45 minutes (longer if you like crispy fries) tossing every 15 minutes.