Wow, spring came at us in full swing this year! Winter is supposed to be cold and slow, yet I found that was not the case for us here at Hindman. In fact, not only are the daffodils blooming and the temperatures in the 60’s, but since the holidays it’s been non-stop planning, conferences, workshops, and more conferences. I feel as though the last few months can essentially be summed up by the week of February 20th.
February 20th. It’s a Monday morning and quite possibly the best Monday I’ve had so far. Mostly because I got to pet a puppy and hold a baby. Monday, February 20th was the calm before the storm. Tuesday and Wednesday that week, we hosted the Better Process Control School on campus. Half the people there were folks from Grow Appalachia. The rest of the folks filtered in from around the state with plans to stay for the East Kentucky Farmers Conference that was held the following two days.
A photograph of attendees of the East Kentucky Farmers Conference
Better Process Control School certified 22 people for commercial production of low-acid canned foods. For those of us getting community canning kitchens, this is extremely important so we can get our participants producing commercially (aka more than just at farmers markets and roadside stands)! Two days full of powerpoint presentations and exams. Two days of double-fisting coffee and water one cup after the next. Two days of talking about microbes in food, types of seals on jars, regulations for canning jars and equipment, and on and on and on. And when we were all finished, and everyone was certified, we set up for two more days for the first East Kentucky Farmers Conference.
Two more days of presentations and panels. Folks from the region explained their meticulous record keeping habits, their personal triumphs and failures, practices they’ve found to work better, tips and tricks of the industry, etc. Organizations such as Kentucky State University, Grow Appalachia, Community Farm Alliance, and more offered technical support for those who needed more information about their grants, or policies, or general knowledge about the type of support they offer to the community. Two exhausting but successful days of conversation, sharing, and relationship building.
As if that wasn’t enough, on Saturday we hosted Kentuckians for the Commonwealth’s “Growing Appalachia” day of workshops. And some of us presented. Fortunately it was a much more low key day with short workshops on beginner gardening, medicinal plants, foraging, and more.
Written down, it doesn’t sound quite as exhausting as it felt. This winter, the first two weeks of January were that Monday. And now here in March, it’s feeling like Sunday again. The lull in between. The relaxation before the storm. The gardening season is almost upon us and it’s time to buckle down and prepare for the hectic spring and summer to come!