Thursday, May 31, 2012

Way of Living

Today we planted extra corn at our community plot, land belonging to an active member of the community that isn’t able to garden by himself, but who wants to contribute his resources to the project.  It wasn’t long before he was telling us stories from his childhood when he had to help out on the land of his grandfather, a sharecropper.  He remembered how glad he was when the summer ended, and he could finally go back to school! 

In 2007 Step by Step helped publish Patchwork Dreams—Stories, Songs and History from Big Ugly Creek and Harts Creek, West Virginia.  Multiple references in the transcribed oral histories help illuminate the Grow Appalachia "context" in our own community for us.

“They farmed [the whole side of a hill].  And they had to because, well, all the food was grown.”  –Loretta Ferrell Bell
‘Why, everybody had chickens and cows, and a rooster’d stand on the fencepost and crow and the cows would moo, and everybody had a horse or a mule.”  –Betty Paris
“We were poor but I didn’t realize it.  We always had food.  We had to work hard, we raised everything we could in the garden and the field and we’d take what they called a turn of corn to a mill and have it ground.  We had our own milk, butter and our own pork, and a few times we had to butcher a beef, and had our own chickens and eggs so I can’t remember of a time that we didn’t have some kind of meat.”   –Mima Kirk

The previous two posts both made references to the importance of Appalachian agricultural heritage and this is a helpful reminder to us here in Big Ugly to highlight and build on this common thread in each of our Grow Appalachia families.  

 Our work here in Rockcastle county continues at a fevered pace. Today we are working hard to complete the layout and planting of our Three Sisters corn "maize" for the youth to enjoy at our Richmond street location. We have some Cherokee White Eagle Heirloom corn seed provided by Chestnut Ridge farm.
 At our ASPI location we are ordering more soil tests to identify the cause of some yellowing in some of the plants. Things are growing great (even the weeds).
 Working with the local Girl Scouts and community members has been a joy. There is such a wealth of agricultural history in the Appalachian region and it is a gift to be able to share in it with the members of this community.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Home Visits and New Intern

Hi!  My name is Lydia Thurman, and I’m a rising sophomore at Duke University studying physics and math, and I'm in Whitesburg for the summer as part of the Robertson scholarship.  I’m interning with the Cowan Community Center, working particularly with its Grow Appalachia program.  

Beautiful lettuce patches in Cowan!
 Today and tomorrow we’re paying visit to each of our twenty eight gardens, checking up on progress and making sure everybody who needs it has access to the labor they need in order to till, weed, and plant in their plots.  Everybody we visited was proud of their gardens’ production, and excited to show us around.  Lettuce was in high supply, and a few of our gardeners were talking about selling some of their lettuce and mustard greens at Seedtime, a local arts festival coming up in a week.

The Soon-To-Be Daycare Garden.
Starting Monday we’re working with the kids involved with the Appalachian Early Childcare program, beginning with arts and crafts and sharing stories about the rich history of gardening in the Appalachian Mountains.  Then, through collaboration with some of the other gardeners in the program who have been really successful, we’re going to begin to plant in a plot the daycare center cleared recently.  The vegetables from the daycare’s garden will then be used for healthy daycare snack options and lunch/dinner events to pull together parents, children, and the daycare staff in collaborating and contributing to this communal garden.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Greetings from High Rocks!  Last week we distributed most of the plants in the hoop house to our participants.  Our “Meet the Seedlings” event brought people up to High Rocks for home-grown snacks, a tour of the gardens, some tool demos and, of course, the seedling pick-up.  A sunny Memorial weekend helped most of us get all of our plants in the ground and today’s showers are helping them get a good start in their new homes.

Another Busy Week For Grow Appalachia at Red Bird Mission ----- Chad Brock

Here at Red Bird Mission the Grow Appalachia crew is working on getting stakes and cane poles for all of our participants' tomatoes and beans. This has been a pretty busy week between caring for our Grow Appalachia Gardens; weeding, hoeing, fencing watering plants etc. and gathering our poles and getting our insecticides and fungicides order together.

We are going to make another round of home visits as soon as we have these things ready to distribute to make the most of our visits. I am really anxious to see how the gardens are looking. There are a few I haven't seen since we distributed their plants and that has me curious! I have seen quite a few of the participants who have requested assistance in their gardens and they are doing well. Just have been super busy tending to the gardens here on Red Bird's campus and haven't had the time to get around to all of the gardens.

We received a couple nice tool donations .One from the Columbia U.M.C in Ky. The other was from a volunteer from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin that spent time helping us prepare our raised beds and did a lot of wonderful work on our strawberries. She sent us a nice little Oriental hand tool for shaving weeds and planting as well as a special variety of sweet corn seed by the name of Mirai .This variety of corn is supposed to be the sweetest on earth and hold its sweetness for days. I would like to send a huge thanks to these special people. Donations like these help to impact the program, and shows that these people are really impressed by the service they have seen Grow Appalachia provide to the people in this area.

Tool donated by Volunteer

                                                  Tools donated by the Columbia U.M.C

           Tools donated by the Columbia U.M.C

Project Worth Community Garden

Hello everyone.  I hope everyone had an enjoyable Memorial Day holiday.  Now that we have gotten all of our participants gearing up their garden it is time we turned our attention and focus on our community garden that is located right here at Project Worth.  We are growing lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, corn, cucumbers, squash and onions.   The yield from this garden will be used in our Food Pantry or given to members of the Project Worth community.  Now if the weather would cooperate and not be dry or really wet for long periods of time we expect a bountiful harvest from this garden.  Below, you will see a few photos of volunteers working in Project Worth's community garden. I hope you enjoy the photos.


                  EJ working the ground

                                                              Our raised garden

                Volunteers preparing to spread fertilizer

                                                                                              Volunteers working the garden

Volunteers finishing up just before the rain starts to fall

I hope that everyone has a good week working in their garden. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cowan Community Center and Revelation Ranch---Giddy Up Garden

Revelation Ranch is an equine ministry in Letcher County.   The owners, Peri and Ricardo Pardo relocated to Letcher County from Boone, North Carolina after a mission visit to the community.    They and their children, along with 23 horses have made Letcher County home and many locals now consider them family.   They have over fifty school age children that they work with during the school year and have a summer long camp for children.    The Pardos were eager to begin growing some of their own food as they provide food for the children and often their families for meals during camp.   Although, they are experienced with the horses, they had little experience in the garden.   The Pardos recruited an experienced gardener from the community to help with the planning and now have their garden growing.    The farm they are on has no shortage of  hands for working in the garden.   The first day of camp began with getting the corn, beans and vegetables in the ground.  To learn more about Revelation Ranch visit their website at or visit them on facebook at PeriandRicardo Pardo.

Henderson Settlement Happenings

This has been a very busy and productive week for us, Aaron , Tyler, and I have worked extremely hard finishing up the Raised Bed gardens and delivering plants. This week we visited Catherine at White Oak. She has several dogs (Very Friendly) she calls them her "Snake Dogs". Apparently there are a lot of snakes who take up residence on her property. Needless to say, Aaron and I stuck close by Catherine after she told us this little bit of information.

Catherine's grapes

Catherine and her Dad have been gardening for several years, but like a lot of us in the area they wouldn't have been able to garden this year without help from Grow Appalachia. We have started planning our Farmers Market for sometime in July. When I asked her if she would like to sell some of her produce at the Farmers Market she replied, "I don't really want to do that. I like giving stuff to people."  After thinking about it she said, "I know what I want to do. Would it be alright if I sold stuff at the Market and then donate the money back to Grow Appalachia or Henderson Settlement ? Then I wouldn't feel like I was getting a hand out."  We have left that decision up to her as we don't want them to think that we are in this for the money.  We were greatly blessed by our visit with Catherine. 


Grow Your Own Dirt-- Pine Mountain, Kathleen Powers

     Now that gardening season is in full swing, it seems a natural time to talk about what to do with your plant and food waste throughout the year. Obviously during the gardening season you will have plant waste that accumulates from weeding, pruning, mowing, etc. Instead of throwing all your garden waste away or just tossing it in the woods, you can start a compost pile. Composting will allow you to cut down on the amount of trash you produce and will provide 100% free, nutrient rich soil that you can use in your garden in future years. There are many options for beginning composters to start with, ranging from fancy store bought containers and tumblers for compost, to simple and cheap homemade compost containers. If you want to start composting right away, one easy idea is to simply nail together 3 shipping pallets so that you create a three sided bin, leaving one side open to add compost and to turn the pile. Put the bin somewhere a ways away from the house and start you pile! You can also use the easiest method there is and simply start a compost pile without any surrounding structure, as long as you heap it all up into one spot, and aren't too worried about animals getting into it, then you are good to go! The following links provide more ideas for starting you own composting system.

An overview of different ways to start composting and different bins you can purchase:

DIY compost bin made out of pallets:

      Composting isn’t limited to your garden waste, many food waste products can also be composted such as fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds. If you keep a small compost container in your kitchen you can just throw all of your food waste into it and only take it outside to add it to the compost pile when necessary. One simple idea for a kitchen compost pail is to use a gallon ice cream bucket. If you want something that will permit air flow you can make a homemade compost pail using an old coffee can and some charcoal filters.

If you want something that looks a bit nicer to set on your kitchen counter there are tons of different containers you can buy online or in stores, here is a website with a good selection:

     Maintaining a compost pile can be pretty hands off, but there are some guidelines to composting for those who want the quickest and most ideal  production of good, nutrient rich, compost. The first step is to have the correct carbon to nitrogen ratio. Carbon provides energy for the breakdown of materials, and nitrogen is essential for the production of protein. the best C:N ratio for compost is somewhere around 25 to 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen, or 25-30:1. If the C:N ratio is too high (excess carbon), decomposition slows down. If the C:N ratio is too low (excess nitrogen) your compost pile will smell pretty bad. The way you regulate your C:N ratio is by controlling your compost input, for example, coffee grounds are a nitrogen source and straw is a carbon source, so you would want 25-30 parts straw for every 1 part of coffee grounds you add to the pile. The second step is to make sure your compost pile gets enough oxygen, to provide oxygen just make sure you turn your compost pile often, using a pitchfork to do this every once in a while is usually sufficient. The next step is to regulate the moisture of your compost pile, this is pretty simple and just entails making sure your compost stays moist, not too dry, and not sopping wet. Compost connoisseurs might also monitor the temperature of their pile, etc. but really composting doesn't HAVE to be all that scientific, just throwing all your garden and food waste into a compost pile is a whole lot better than filling the trash with it, so don't feel like you have to have a perfect production to start you own compost.

Detailed guidelines for those who want to know more specifics about creating compost:

Here is a list of materials that can and cannot be composted and their and how it is best to add them to your pile:

Start your compost pile now, and you just might have beautiful soil ready in time for some fall planting!

David viewing Talt's potatoes

Armilda and David at her site

Talt explaining his garden

ASPI had an interesting visit from David this week.  We had an opportunity to introduce him to some of our Grow Appalachia participants while visiting home gardens.  We visited 4 gardens, each of which was very different from the others. 
Talt and Benda’s garden was a beauty.  Talt has gardened for many years, and it shows in his garden.  His potatoes looked ready to begin harvesting!  He and Benda also keep chickens, goats, rabbits, a hog and cows, providing them with all of the meat and much of everything else they eat through the year.  In addition to the site at their home he works with others on 2 additional sites.  Talt also volunteers weekly with a senior group assisting with whatever needs they may have.  He and Benda live in a beautiful home that Talt built, along with building homes for each of his 3 sons.  Lots of energy going on there!  
Our 2nd site was to Armilda’s farm.  She and her husband still grow 4 acres of tobacco each year, but had lost all their saved garden seed this spring.  Grow Appalachia was a ‘life-saver’ for them as they grow much of what they eat (and are raising their grandchildren as well) on a very low income.  Armilda is generous to a fault and shares what she grows with others.  She also grew on many of our plant starts for us this year – and they were beautiful!  Last year she put up 964 quarts of food!!!  She has gardened all her life, starting as a child of 8 when she cared for her younger siblings and had to do most of the gardening, cooking and household work for the entire family.
Next we visited Mary Jo and her husband Josh who have a very small spot behind their house.  Her plants looked great!  Her tomatoes are already over knee tall and lush dark green.  She is a relative new-comer to gardening and Josh, who gives her full credit for the garden – saying that mowing the grass is his contribution, told us the garden looks much improved this year from past gardens.  MaryJo says’ “The program’s really helped me.”  MaryJo is also the leader of the Girl Scout troop that is so actively involved with the project.
Our final site visit of the day was perhaps the garden that needs the most help.  JR has had some health problems and not spent much time in the garden.  It shows!  The site itself is a difficult one, being recently removed from pasture with all its attending weed problems and quite a distance from his house so that tending it is more of a chore.  His plants looked a bit puny, maybe frightened by the overwhelming weeds and unimproved soil.  JR and his family are very much the kind of people Grow Appalachia hopes to help.  We will work closely with him and hope to help him help himself with his needs.  He would like to become self-sufficient and even to raise vegetables, apples and chickens (for eggs) to sell at market.  He has a long way to go, but is eager to learn! 
We are looking forward to working with these folks, as well as the other participants.  What a great bunch we seem to have involved in the project!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mujeres Unidas Hispanic Outreach Garden Project Update

It has been a beautiful week in Richmond Ky. We have had the opportunity to enjoy some fresh vegetables from the garden and folks are getting more and more excited about the wonderful summer vegetables soon to come. We have been enjoying kale, lettuce, swiss chard, Onion flowers, collards, spinach, mustards, and also a few beets. Warm weather has the squash running wide open and I believe we will have some squash from one or two of our families very soon with others right behind.

Winter Squash from last year still so delicious!!!!!!

Along with the squash the weeds are coming on strong too! We have been pulling, and mulching, and scuffling trying to stay in front of those persistent agitators. Pull them small or smother them!

Happy weeding.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

LMU Garden update

Here is an update from the LMU garden.   Lots of work going, weeding, and planting in the members beds.  Also  planted, corn, beans in the community garden and have filled up more beds with dirt.  Have transplanted alot of our plants that were grew in the green house and we are loving our new scuffle hoes.
We have gotten a few rice seeds and will try our luck at rice patties this year.  Has anyone ever grew rice before?

West Virginia State University Extension Service – A valuable local resource

Two weeks ago Melissa Stewart, Agriculture and Natural Resources Specialist at WVSU Extension, presented on Insect and Disease Management, the last of a (free) five-part gardening workshop series at a community center approximately one hour away from Big Ugly.  Over-viewing the garden’s top 10 insects (aphis, thrips, whitefly, flea beetles, leaf miners, cucumber beetles, Mexican bean beetles, stink bugs, stem borers, leaf hoppers) and top 10 diseases (powdery mildew, botrytis, leaf spots, fusarium, early blight, late blight, bacterial wilt, bacterial blights, mosaic virus, damping off) in just two hours can be a bit overwhelming, but we were able to go over the information with our families at an all-participant meeting held last week, and consider it an introduction to our own upcoming workshop, Soil & Pest Management, to be held here June 6.

In the meantime, WVSU Extension is taking on a greater role in gardening projects here at Big Ugly Community Center.  This week we got digging to get an apple tree, a peach tree, 2 grape vines, 3 kiwi plants, 5 blueberry bushes, 6 raspberries and 6 blackberries in the ground for a Small Fruits Garden sponsored by WVSU.  Another apple tree, figs, more blackberries and 10 strawberry plants will be following soon, as will mulching and general site construction.  We are very excited for this edition because in due course WVSU will promote educational and interactive workshops around the fruit garden, which will benefit our Grow Appalachia families and the community at large.  

Garden Update from St Vincent Mission

As you all know, it is very busy this time of year but here’s a quick update from St Vincent Mission.

Teresa and Irene at the north end of their garden
I visited a couple of families yesterday and was very pleased with their gardens. The Compton’s have planted a bunch this year with the plan of both selling at the Farmer’s Market and canning. In fact, Teresa and her mother Irene Castle are going to be presenters at our canning class in July. Teresa and Irene had an interesting conversation while I was there yesterday about sweet potatoes. We are getting our slips from Crystal and her sister-in-law Paula so I am taking orders. Teresa said she wanted at least a hundred but Irene remarked that they didn’t need any. When I asked her why, she said, “for what little we use ‘em, it’s just cheaper and easier to buy ‘em from the store.” I ran in to that mindset a lot when I was recruiting families and now that I have a bit of gardening for food under my belt (both literally and figuratively) I can see why a lot of people choose to not garden. It is hard work!!

Bradie in his garden with the walnut tree in the background
Another family I visited was Bradie and Mary Nolan. Bradie was our Gardener of the Year last season and he is putting a lot of effort into his gardens again this year. He has doubled his plot from last year, added another for sweet potatoes, has two onion-lettuce-mustard green beds and put a small plot out for his granddaughter. An interesting side note to Bradie’s gardens: the south side of his big plot is bordered by a walnut tree and he has been told by both the Soil Conservation District agent, Tony Grubb, and me (through my classes at the Extension Office) that he is going to have problems growing anything there but I saw peas, beans, corn, tomatoes and peppers all growing at that end of the garden so we will see. Also, in the picture I took of Bradie in his garden you will notice he is smoking a cigarette. I told him I understood that it was possible to pass on tobacco mosaic virus from cigarettes to tomato and pepper plants. He had never heard of that before so we are going to check in to it some more.

Well that’s all for now. I have to check my cabbage and broccoli for those nasty cabbage worms and then go check some other gardens before working in my own this evening. Do you think God invented winter so gardeners would get a break? 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Our Week at Red Bird Mission ---------- Chad Brock

      Yesterday Karen and I finished planting our Grow Appalachia community garden. We now have a nice variety of vegetables growing here on campus and in our participants family gardens. It is awesome to see such enthusiasm from our participants as they look at their garden filled with beautiful plants and looking forward to the great food they will provide to their families. We are beginning to see some harvesting  from some of our earliest plants. Here at Red Bird we have harvested a couple bushel of lettuce, a couple gallon of strawberries and we have peas and onions ready to eat. Some of our participants have already harvested and eaten peas, lettuce, mustard and turnip greens and one family graveled out new potatoes. Some were already the size of a grapefruit.

       We now have to focus on tending to these gardens and to stress the importance of a well kept garden to our participants. Another important step is to see that they have the resources they need such as poles for trellising, and organic sprays to ward off all the plant destroying diseases we have here. Proper care of these gardens will have a huge impact on our yield.  We plan on using our gardens here to demonstrate a few different methods to stake, cage and trellis tomatoes, beans and cucumbers as well; as showing the benefits of using some type of mulch. We will also use the raised beds to compare the growth and yield provided by them along with advantage of having the structure around them making it much easier to add fencing for predator protection and adding cover in the fall to create a small cold frame extending your growing season.
 I am also going to show the effects of pruning tomatoes by pruning  two plants and leaving a couple unpruned  and recording their yield so they can see the difference a little extra attention can make, and also as a learning experience for me seeing as I am new to the pruning of tomatoes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mid-May Planting a Success

Hello soil lovers.

The garden is looking like an actual garden! Things are growing so well! Especially the potatoes. Still so many things to do, but we got a lot of logistical things settled. At this workshop we took a tour of our template garden with Grow App participants and talked about all the different things going on--how we are using mulches, our tomato pruning and trellising methods, and just checking in with them on how everything is going at their own gardens. We talked about spraying brassica plants with BT and talked about the cabbage moth--FUN.

We made a garden journal for each participant that has a planting guide for all the different seeds and plants we are handing out. We also included some additional information--a page on each vegetable with all the particular pests that like it and what to do about it, more information on organic soil fertility and so on. We have space in the journal for garden observations and problems, and harvest tracksheets for each crop. We went over how important keeping track of the harvest is, for us, and for people to grow as gardeners and nail down an efficient system.

We went around the garden and identified various weeds and talked about such things as--when is a pest problem a problem? How do I get into a meditative state while weeding?

Our next workshop will be focused on soil fertility and interpreting the soil test results more in-depth.

We've had more local volunteers out taking care of the template garden and that's been wonderful. Some local high school students volunteered to make educational signs for the garden, so slowly we are partnering more with the community, and really working towards our goal of the whole community being invested in this project.

We have also begun a partnership with the local college garden at Emory and Henry College. We are hoping to work with them to design more educational workshops for Grow App participants, and figure out more how these educational gardening projects can work together. Time will tell.
Talking about various plants. The bag under the table is filled with thousands of flower seeds. 

Sometimes the whole family comes to meetings. 
Florida Basketweave

Some radishes. 

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone?  Paved paradise, put up a parking lot…”

At ASPI we’re doing just the opposite!  We’ve gotten rid of part of the parking lot and put in a small piece of edible paradise right next to the office.  The garden plot holds spaces for 6-8 gardeners, one of them being the local girl scout troop, another being the ASPI office itself, the rest are cared for by local individuals.  Before I came on the scene, the walkways were marked out with mulch and the beds with aged manure compost.  My first day of work Nancy asked me to design and plant the garden; she had many transplants and seeds to go in. 
                Have you worked with intercropping and intensive gardening?  Well, up to that point, I had never intentionally done either of these, but one of ASPI’s goals as part of Grow Appalachia is to encourage folks to use these two methods.  If you’d like a little more information, this page gives a good overview: and many books and other internet sites contain more detailed information about how to intercrop and intensively plant.  Needless to say, I had a little trouble and was a little nervous about these methods!  Having been trained in sustainable but moderately conventional ways of planting at Berea College, this method did not come naturally.  However, once I got over the initial shock of putting plants closer than I thought and intermingling different types of vegetables: roots seeds with tomato transplants, onions bulbs with cole crops, beans with potatoes…it began to make sense and it was fun to experiment with different combinations.  Within the garden we will also have a display of the Native American method “Three Sisters” planting of corn, beans and squash together, so that the squash shades the roots and the beans have the corn to climb, the corn benefits from the nitrogen fixing of the beans!  Next to that is the native edibles bed, which contains nettles, lambs quarters, amaranth and more!  This bed will help folks identify some “weeds” that are edible and high in nutrients…don’t throw them out, use those weeds!  Edging our vegetable beds will be a strip of beneficials-attracting flowers, some native flowers, herbs and giant sunflowers! 
                At the end of the day, I had a garden intensively planted and intercropped.  To help us all remember what was planted where, Nancy asked me to make a map of the garden.   Using graphing paper and a pencil, I sketched out each bed and recorded what was planted in it.  If you’ve never done this before (I had not) it’s a great idea.  Mapping out your garden not only helps you remember what you’ve planted when everything finally starts coming up, but it will also allow you to keep records and encourage a little note taking for reminders in future plantings. 
                When I returned to ASPI for my second week of work, a few of the seedlings had popped out of the ground, but many of them were still taking their sweet time to emerge and grow.  I am excited to see what else has come up when I return this week!  Tired of all the parking lots?  Come by and see our little plot of paradise at Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest on Lair Street in Mount Vernon. 

Pocahontas County, WV

 It is so exciting how big our plants are growing. We are inviting participants up to High Rocks to pick up their plants. The peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers will be in the ground soon!


Hello everyone.  We hope everyone's
garden is coming along nicely. 
We know that ours are now that the rain
 has stopped.

 On Monday, May 14 we held our most recent meeting.  It was well attended  and informative.   We had a discussion on how everyone's garden was coming along and how their journals were progressing.  All responses were very positive.                                                          


                                                                           We also collected physical addresses so we could Google maps to everyone's garden.  We also requested that eveyone consider either posting a statement on this blog or provide us a short hand written statement so that we could post it on this blog.  The nature of the statement is how has being a part of the Grow Appalached Gardening Project impacted their lives thus far.  Also, we requested that everyone give us 2 or 3 recipes that included something they are growing in their garden.  We requested that they try to be unique and/or creative with these recipes.  Our goal is to post some of these recipes on weekly basis and provide each participant a recipe handbook at the end of the growing season.      

Hope eveyone has a great week!

Our youngest gardener.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Scott County Grow Appalachia

The Scott County Grow Appalachia program had a booth at the local heath fair.  The focus of the health fair was on diabetes awareness.   Some of our garden participants helped design, assemble, and work the booth.  The focus of our booth was to provide information about our program and to provide educational materials on the importance of eating healthy vegetables in the treatment and prevention of diabetes.
Our volunteers and their children enjoyed their time together,  and it was educational for everybody involved.  From our researched, we learned that diabetic patients  should eat fresh vegetables, fruits, 
whole grains and lean meats, and should avoid foods that are  processed, enhanced, flavored, preserved and packaged.  

Some of the vegetables that are most beneficial in helping to maintain healthy insulin levels are garlic, onions, zucchini, celery, cabbage, cauliflower, mint, kale, lettuce, turnip, radish, eggplant, spinach, green beans, cucumber, and broccoli.  Also, home grown vegetables are the most desirable because vine ripened freshly picked vegetables are more nutritious, as well as being more delicious. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Henderson Settlement Youth Ministry Coordinator, Magdalyn Mayes and I have spent the last 24 hours with the young ladies from the girls club planning and planting the garden located at the youth center.
When Maggie first broached the idea of a lock-in for the girls club, and asked if I would like to stay all night with her and the girls, I thought, "Sure, that will be fun.  We can discuss Grow Appalachia and how important it is to learn about gardening and how it affects our lives."

Well, let me be the first to tell you , That's not quite how it went Thursday night!
Maggie, the girls, and I had quite a night! The first thing we had to do was get them (Eight girls aged 10 to 15) on the bus and on the way to the youth center. This was an experience in itself.  The trip ended up taking twice as long as it should have because the girls had to make sure they had everything they would need for the night away from home. You would have thought they were leaving home for a week or more.
Thursday turned into softball, movies, and a campfire with s'mores.  This was OK with us because we figured the girls would deserve a little fun with all the work that would come along with this lock-in.  Unfortunately, s'mores mean chocolate and marshmallows, and we all know what those things do to kids.  We finally turned in at the break of dawn. But soon after, we begrudgingly rolled out of bed, grumbling.  Well, not all of us.  Maggie and I walked around singing for the girls to wake up, which I'm sure only annoyed them.  But it worked! 
We loaded the bus with a bunch of grumpy gals and headed to the greenhouse at the Henderson Settlement Farm.  Surprisingly, the sleepy girls were very interested in the farm and greenhouses.  Upon arrival, the girls were informed that they were NOT to touch the goat dogs or the fence that holds them.  Dulley Partin, the Greenhouse Manager, gave the girls a tour and discussed the Youth Garden plans with them. 
The girls walked through with Dulley and carefully selected their plants.  We stopped off at the barn to pick up some tools and headed back to the Youth Center.  By this time, the girls were ready for lunch.  We were beginning to think that this garden would never get planted.  We went to the Settlement's Dining Hall to fill ourselves with taco salad, which proved to be a heavy lunch.  The tired girls begged for naptime, and to be honest, we weren't completely opposed, but we pressed on and encouraged the girls that it would be best to get started.
Once we got back to the Youth Center, it seemed as though we were all fueled and ready to go.  We started by clearing the existing raised bed of weeds.  The girls learned how to use typical gardening tools as well as a scuffle hoe.  Maggie was especially impressed with the efficiency of this tool.  The girls were thankful for each passing cloud that blocked the sun, but it wasn't miserably hot out. 
We all worked together to get the job done, and well.  We planted 3 different kinds of tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, red and green bell peppers, sweet banana peppers, squash, and eggplant.  They were very glad to make it to the finish line and were pleased and proud of the finished product.  When asked what they had learned today, they responded with the following:
Megan-  "I learned how to plant tomatoes!"
Allison-  "I learned how to garden how to use the scuffle hoe!"
Chenoa-  "I learned what compost was and that we are planting life.  God made it and He gave us the privilege to do it."
Ashley-  "I learned what a sucker was and how to sucker plants, 'cause it will suck the life out of plants."
Makayla-  "Didn’t realize that you needed to water plants when you put them in the ground!"
Can't sleep!
Maggie shared that the girls club had taken a recent interest in being the fundraising committee for the Youth Program at Henderson Settlement.  They say the the youth plan on selling the produce at the Farmer's Market and maybe to local stores and such.  They also plan to take some of the yield home for dinner. 

Garden before it was planted