Thursday, October 25, 2012

No GMO's for These Floyd County Farmers

I just had an interesting conversation with Todd Howard, my friend and mentor. He said he understands why farmers would be drawn to planting GMO’s. Let me put his comment in context.
Gary and Todd at the Farmer's Market

Todd and his business partner, Gary Hicks, farm on two plots of land which consist of about six acres total. For the last two weeks they have been clearing, tilling and putting in manure and cover crop all to replenish the soil. This week alone they have added four tons of manure to their soil. That’s a lot of manure. (I’m just saying what you all are thinking) and Todd said it sure didn't go very far.

The process went like this. Drive your truck to the stable. Get out and start shoveling cuz there is no backhoe or farm hand to load your truck, which by the way is your farm truck not a dump truck so when you get back to the garden you have to do the whole thing again in reverse. Todd and Gary decided to fix the manure spreader to make the spreading a bit easier. Five hours later it was fixed and loaded and hooked up to the tractor and ten minutes later it was broke again. So then it was unload the spreader and spread it all by hand. Then you till it in which is easy cuz you have a tiller on your tractor except the yolk on the tiller breaks so you spend another three hours fixing that and start tilling again and then fixing it again and finally you can spread your cover crop. And you are doing all this to feed the soil. Of course, it would be easier to use chemicals than go through all this labor intensive nurturing of the earth.

Real Food!!
So why do Todd & Gary and the Grow Appalachia family do all this hard work? So that when they sink their teeth into the sweetest corn they every tasted or make a pot of hot soup this winter from vegetables they canned themselves they know they are eating real food. No chemical additives, no genetic alterations, no hormones. Just food and for Todd, Gary and lots of folks reading this blog post, that’s worth the effort.

So here's to the hard working farmer. Thanks!! Sr. KC

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Baby Leek! ~ More fall planting and tilling in Abingdon, VA

Heather here.

Our focus right now is recruiting participants for next year.

I've been handing out flyers at the food pantry and the food pantry staff distributes them as well.

The flyer, and a lovely sunflower full of seed for next year (!)

I tilled up more of the garden and we seeded Austrian Winter Peas, and planted leeks, shallots, and lettuce. We will put bales of straw around the lettuce and prop a window on top for a makeshift coldframe. 

We shoveled all the tilled-up soil from the pathway and made a large mound, hoed 2 furrows and planted the little baby leeks 6'' apart. As they grow, we will rake soil into the furrows. We will also mulch the crap out of the leeks and shallots to aid in their over-wintering experience. 

Little lettuce squares

Before, and during, the tilling I was hemming and hawing and getting a bit worried and out of sorts as I always do when I think about soil compaction, all the different schools of thought on tilling...questioning my relationship to the soil and how much I really understand, but one of our volunteers, Debbie, actually took a photo of the soil to send to her friend as she said this was some of the best soil she's seen and she wanted to "gloat about how lucky [she] is to get to garden in it". 

Our garlic arrived...all 8 varieties. So excited. Need to do some onion research...

And our oats keep on keepin on.  

That's it that's all! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

We Beat the Deer ---- Chad Brock ----- Red Bird Mission

Earlier in the growing season I posted a blog on how our beautiful garden became a food plot for deer. Well turns out with a few cane poles some bailing string and a little hard work we still had some success with our garden.

I took some cane poles and some bailing string and raised my fence to around 7-8 feet high. I just ran a string all the way around the garden every foot apart until I got it high enough that deer wouldn't be so eager to jump over it. Then I took some old shopping bags and tied to the string and let them wave around in the wind. This was nothing pretty to look at but it confused the deer, the motion of the bags kept them backed off . No more deer.

After I seen that the deer had quit coming in the garden, I wanted to replant some sweet corn seed, I wondered if it would have time to make it seeing as it was already July 20th, but I chose a variety with an early maturity date (serendipity) and took a chance on it.
It done pretty good, last week we harvested, a couple bushel of six inch ears that seemed sweeter than any summer corn I can remember. This is something I plan on trying every year, a second run of sweet corn.

Sweet Corn harvested 10/10/2012

I also planted some Blue Lake 274 bush beans that produced really well,we planted four 25 ft. rows that produced about 4 bushel.
Our tomatoes also recovered from being mowed down , they became real bushy with lots of suckers but produced real well, we are still getting a few ripe tomatoes off of them. Our peppers done great, produced more than we could ever get rid of so we plan on drying them and crushing them and using them for spray next year to keep back the deer and rabbits.
 So as  the old saying goes "If at first you don't succeed try, try again".

Tomatoes harvested 10/10/2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sweet Sorghum of Pine Mountain~ Kathleen Powers

Maggie presses the cane with
 the help of GA participants
   This year, with the supervision of one of our very knowledgeable Grow Appalachia participants, we grew a crop of sweet sorghum at the Settlement School. Given that, (1) we were a bit late planting our sorghum, (2)we planted it in the wettest part of the garden, and (3)we neglected to keep it well weeded and thinned out, we were a bit worried that it wouldn't fully mature and that our efforts (or lack thereof) would be for naught. Luckily, we let the sorghum do its thing and by early October we had cane that was ready to be harvested and processed into syrup! At our fall harvest festival we pressed the cane and started the process of boiling down the juice, in the end we came out with one delicious quart of sorghum!

Our quart of sorghum!
   Sorghum is a crop that has been traditionally grown in Kentucky as far back as the mid 1800’s, Kentucky is now one of 8 states in the southeast and Midwest producing 90% of the United States total sorghum output. Sorghum is a great crop for many Kentucky farmers because it does well in the loam and sandy loam soils that are common in the state. Another ease of growing benefit is that sweet sorghum does NOT require high amounts of organic matter to produce a good crop for syrup. One of the greatest benefits of growing sweet sorghum is its value of about $2000 per acre. Sweet Sorghum as a cash crop is a great example of how keeping it local can really work; most sorghum growers tend to be small producers who see their crop from seed to syrup, and then to a local market; the work and profit of growing sorghum stays within the community and directly benefits those who put the work into producing it. Sorghum is definitely not something that you see filling grocery store shelves identified by the labels of numerous large commercial companies, I for one had never tasted (or heard of) sorghum in my life before coming to KY. 

Seed heads from the sorghum cane
   Sweet sorghum is just one of many varieties of sorghum grown in Kentucky. Sorghum crops can also be used as grain and forage feed for animals, as an ethanol/biofuel source, the grain can be ground into a gluten free flour for cooking and baking, and even popped like popcorn, who knew sorghum was such a versatile crop!

And a couple pictures from the fall harvest festival!
Pumpkin carving
mmm pumpkin guts

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Special Guest Speaker on High Tunnel: Tina

Wayne Riley whom is the Laurel County Grow App. coordinator invited a special guest speaker to come to our meeting on Tuesday night. His name is Doug McIntosh, he is a soil sample specialist with the USDA. He spoke to the group about high tunnel benefits, having fresh vegetables throughout the winter months, less bugs, more disease resistance to the plants.  He discussed having a high tunnel that is movable to rotate sites. Very informative and useful information. Handouts were passed out with even more information. He ended the meeting with a statement "Know your farmer...know your food". 

                                       Wayne Riley and guest Doug McIntosh

Doug and his wife Betty.
We were all very interested in this topic and learned alot about it.

Also I wanted to add the last of the community garden's summer harvest.  Many different types of peppers. These will be donated to Laurel Heights and shelters.

These are some grafted tomatoes that Wayne grew at the LCAAHC.

Mini pumpkins that are mainly used for Fall decorating. One of our Grow App. participants grew these and brought them in to share. Hopefully many of them will save the seeds and plant some in their gardens next year.

Harvest Party Recap!

Post by Corissa | Photos by Ralph
Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program

Last month we invited the community to a Harvest Party to discover and explore the farm and healing gardens. Staff and residents worked all week to make the shelter and grounds sparkle for our visitors. About a hundred people attended the event on that breezy end-of-summer day. Some party guests were familiar with the farm and stopped by to show their support. For others, the party was their first introduction to the amazing work we're doing on the farm.
Harvest Party guests begin to arrive.
Everyone enjoyed farm-to-table treats featuring our tomatoes, basil, and honey. One shelter resident made a big dish of her soon-to-be famous spicy salsa to share with party-goers. Tours highlighted how the farm and shelter work together to provide meaningful avenues of healing for survivors of intimate partner abuse.

We even had a special guest - Congressman Ben Chandler - stop by to show his support.

Business Lexington wrote a great article about the event and farm. One line reads: "Those who participate in the garden — and kids love it too — say they feel as if they are part of something bigger than themselves, a part of a community..." You can read the complete article here.

The community interest and support of our farm is really growing. Thanks to everyone who helped make our first Harvest Party a big success!

Henderson Settlement/ White Oak Happenings ~ Jackie

Sarah's (aged 11) Garden


Way back in the spring , Sarah, my next door neighbor, said to me, " School is almost out and I'm going to be sooo bored with nothing to do all summer". I asked , " Would you like to grow a garden?" She said, " I can't grow a garden, I don't know how! " I said, "I think I might be able to help you with that!
After discussing Grow Appalachia with Sarah's mom and explaining the program to Sarah, her mom agreed that growing a garden would be a great learning experience  for Sarah  and her whole family. Plus they would have fresh vegetables to eat!
Planting Tomatoes
 Sarah's mom remembered working in the garden when she was a little girl but had never planted her own garden. She was excited for Sarah to have the opportunity to learn how to grow a garden, however, we made sure that Sarah understood that the garden would be her responsibility . After discussing the space available for a garden and size of the garden, and what she might like to grow in the garden we decided that a raised bed garden would probably work best.
Sarah and her Dad built the raised bed and dug up soil to put in the raised bed,
she then planted tomatoes, okra and peppers.
Sarah had hoped to be able to sell some of her vegetables at our Farmers Market but the family ended up eating or giving away the vegetables she grew.

Learning how to can tomatoes with other Grow Appalachia participants

Sarah's Story

This spring I planted my first garden. It was a lot of work, but I had help from my mom and dad and Grow Appalachia. The hardest part was digging up the grass and then putting down the top soil. After that it got a lot easier. Jackie brought me tomatoes, peppers, and okra to plant. Mom showed me how to dig a hole and put in the plants and water. After that I had to keep them watered and pull out any weeds. I was really excited when the plants started to bloom and I was very happy the day I picked my first tomato. I shared my harvest with my whole family. Overall it was a great experience and I want to do it again next spring.

Weeding and Harvesting the garden

Sunday, October 14, 2012

From Corn In the Field too.....Cornbread : Tina

Our field corn is finally ready to harvest. We initially grew it to feed chickens that we were going to get  but I guess you could say that we "chickened out".  Maybe next year we'll get some.
Anyways we have all this corn and  have been wanting to make homemade cornbread with it and so we did today.  We found this grinder at the flea market last year.
First we removed the corn from the cob, then ran it through the grinder 3 times. With each pass you get a finer texture.

This is the cornmeal after 3 passes, we ground 4 ears of corn and got 6 cups of cornmeal.

Then we baked cornbread. We were pleasantly surprised that it tasted very good.

We picked more today before the rain came. It has to dry for 2 weeks prior to grinding.

In case anyone else has some field corn and wants to make cornbread, here is the recipe we used:
~Cornbread Recipe~
1 c. yellow cornmeal
1 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
1 c. milk
1/4 c. shortening

Mix all ingredients. Bake in 8x8 cake pan at 325 until done, about 25 minutes.


Frost on the Pumpkin ~by Erica at High Rocks

Frosty mornings and starry night freezes.    Hot sunshine and cold autumn breezes. 
Digging potatoes, whites, golds, and reds.  Coiling the hoses in garden sheds.  
Harvest, prepare, preserve, and bake.  Cultivate, cover, sow and rake. 
Field peas and rye, straw bales, and clover.  The beets are sweeter but the melons are over.    
Light a fire and share a toast.  Hot apple cider and sweet pumpkin roast.
The pantry is full for the season of snows, and gardeners grateful
for an Appalachia that Grows. 

Or, in the finer words of the James Whitcomb Riley  (1853-1916)...
"When the Frost is on the Punkin"

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,

And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,

And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,

And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;

O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,

As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere

When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,

And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;

But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze

Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days

Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,

And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;

The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still

A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;

The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—

O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;

And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through

With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...

I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be

As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me—
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Henderson Settlement/ White Oak Happenings~ Jackie

Composting Class, Kristin Smith Whitley County Horticulturist

Composting Class in the Henderson Settlement Library . Lois, Catherine and Bud.

We were glad to have Kristin back with us to teach a class on Composting.

Kristin discussed how to compost from garbage to garden, giving examples of materials that can be used and not used in composting.
What to Compost                                               What not to Compost  
                                             Grass Clippings                                                  Dairy Products
                                             Leaves                                                                 Human & Pet feces
                                             Non-woody plant Clippings(weeds)                    Bones
                                              Straw (Not hay because of seeds)                       Whole Eggs
                                             Manure (Cow, horse, Chicken)                            Meats
                                             Coffee grounds                                                     Breads
                                             Egg Shells
                                             Vegetable Scraps
                                               Wood ash
Several of the gardeners are interested in using barrels to make compost bins, especially those with small gardens or raised beds. Kristin encouraged the gardeners to choose a lobor saving  site for their compost bins, because if the bins are placed in an inconvent place, odds are good that you won't remember to place materials in the compost.
For those who have more space for a compost bin, she suggested using wood pallets to build a larger compost bin.


Grow Your Own and Avoid Toxic Chemicals! ~Pine Mountain, Maggie Ashmore

I absolutely love my job and love Grow Appalachia. Grow Appalachia is a wonderful program that helps hundreds of families throughout Central Appalachia gain the supplies, knowledge, and physical assistance necessary to grow abundant gardens full of nutrient dense, fresh food. While saving families money on grocery bills and allowing families to increase their intake of fresh vegetables is impressive in itself, Grow Appalachia sites constantly provide anecdotal evidence that the program also brings neighbors together, strengthens communities, and improves mental health. If that isn't enough, the program may also be decreasing families’ exposure to toxic chemicals found in food packaging! Wow!

Deb Callahan's Chow Chow

 During our Tuesday Grow Appalachia meeting we welcomed Melinda Alcorn, Community Educator for the Safe Foods Project to present on the hidden dangers of packaged food. Melinda guided us through a discussion on BPA (Bisphenol A) usage by food companies.

What is BPA? BPA was originally manufactured as a synthetic estrogen. It is currently used to harden plastic and as a protective barrier against metal corrosion and bacteria in canned foods.

What’s the big deal? Studies have found that BPA has leached into the food in 92% of cans found in the grocery store. BPA is an endocrine disruptor that affects how hormones carry messages throughout our bodies. Even low levels of exposure have been linked to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, diabetes, thyroid disorders, early puberty, and even attention deficits and behavioral problems. BPA is also an obesegen, which changes precursor cells into fat cells and changes metabolism rates so we accumulate more calories instead of burning them.

Where is BPA  found? BPA can be found in many products, such as DVDs, receipts, pop cans,  re-usable water bottles, baby bottles, and Sippy cups. BPA is predominately found in the plastic linings of cans used to store food. Fortunately, many companies are phasing out BPA use in re-usable water bottles, baby bottles, and Sippy cups (look for the label “BPA free”).

What can we do to avoid BPA?
1.   Eat fresh food! This is where Grow Appalachia shines again! By growing our own food and preserving it ourselves for the winter we are lowering our exposure drastically.
2.   Purchase dried beans rather than canned and frozen produce rather than canned.
3.   Pay attention to the type of plastic you are buying. Check on the bottom of containers for the recycle symbol. Inside the symbol there should be a number. Plastics numbered 1, 2, 4, and 5 are better. Avoid #3 (PVC), #6 (polystyrene), and #7 or “PC” (Polycarbonate). #3 and #6 do not contain BPA, but are still more toxic than the other numbers. Click here to learn more about what recycling codes tell us.
4.   Purchase items packaged in glass or aseptic multi-layer boxes.

For more information about BPA read the No Silver Lining Report or the Kentucky Safe Foods Fact Sheet. For more information about the Kentucky Safe Foods Project please visit the Toxics Free Future webpage.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Scott County Grow Appalachia

 Cover Crops    Cover crops benefit the soil by improving soil tilth, improving water filtration, reducing erosion, improving fertility,  increasing organic matter, and suppressing weeds.   Also beneficial organisms and insects may be encouraged by planting cover crops.  

A class on soil quality with an emphasis on cover crops was offered to our participants.   A mixture of buckwheat, crimson clover, and a fall crop was distributed to our participants to be used as a cover crop. 

 Participant Fair Ribbons 

 Boys and Girls Club Garden