When Executive Director Brent Hutchinson saw the impact and excitement of the Settlement’s Grow Appalachia program, he knew that the Settlement School needed to serve the region’s growing food economy and address issues surrounding food insecurity and access. It was a long-range plan, but something he felt suited the school’s mission and could be executed superbly along the fertile banks of Troublesome Creek. The Foodways program was propelled forward by the generosity and thoughtfulness of many folks near and far.
In the midst of turning our kitchen into a Community Cannery, funded by the Kentucky Social Welfare Foundation, Berea College Grow Appalachia Promise Zone project, Kentucky State University, and the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, the Settlement School was approached about the gift of a greenhouse and high tunnel from Floyd County Schools, as well as the use of a once self-sustaining mountain farm, from land owner Ben Hampton. These gracious gifts laid the groundwork and sped up the creation of the Foodways Program.
Now, having the foundation to build upon, our team has designed a social enterprise focusing on creating economically viable enterprise budgets while producing healthy, local food. The plan was in place, the greenhouses and farm were ready, but we lacked the needed equipment to begin. Once again, folks stepped up and supported our efforts. The Kentucky Horticulture Council and the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service added hydroponic equipment and expertise for growing tomatoes in the high tunnel, the E.O. Robinson Mountain Fund provided a tractor and implements for use on the farm, and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution provided more than 5,000 packets of seeds.
Today, thanks to the generosity of many, we have 250 tomato plants in the high tunnel beginning to bloom, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) garden full of sustainable vegetables, pastured poultry in chicken tractors, two New Zealand Kune Kune pigs and over 50 families benefitting from programming, seeds, and technical assistance. As we go into the growing season, we are thankful for our many blessings and are excited to continue to serve the community!