Our Grow Appalachia participants grew over 20,000 lbs. of organic produce this year to feed their families and fuel their businesses. Grow Appalachia is a gardening and economic development program run by Berea College. For four years, the Hindman Settlement School has partnered with Grow Appalachia to provide our community with gardening and healthy living classes as well as seeds, tools, and other gardening resources.
This year, forty home-gardening families and ten market-gardening families participated in the program. Some of these families have grown gardens for years, while others have never grown one. A majority of our ten meetings have focused on how to raise a successful garden. We held lessons on garden planning, planting, and maintenance, as well as specialized lessons on pest control and soil science. Other classes dealt with cooking and food preservation.
Dena Davis of Knott County Family Healthcare demonstrated how to cook a quick heart-healthy meal with seasonal produce. Bonita Adams, local master canner, taught participants pickling, water bath canning, and pressure canning. At each meeting, participants gave each other advice and supported each other through the season’s struggles and successes. Our gardeners incorporated expert advice into their traditional knowledge to grow truly local gardens.
Our gardeners grew Kentucky staples such as corn and beans while experimenting with new crops such as mushrooms and hot peppers. Participants received organic fertilizer, fencing, sprayers, seeds, and sweet potato vines to help offset the cost of raising a garden. In addition, our market-gardening families sold over $6,000 of their homegrown produce at local farmers markets.
All of our Grow Appalachia classes are free and open to the public. Join us on Tuesday, November 27 at 6:00 pm at the Mike Mullins Cultural Heritage Center for the last meeting of the year, our Thanksgiving Potluck. Meetings will resume in January starting with a seed swap on the 22nd.