July 12, 2011
Hello fellow gardeners, Appalachians, and other folks following the Grow Appalachia project!  I hope everyone has a nice swimming hole to escape from this July heat in!  This is Rachel writing from High Rocks Grow Appalachia site in Hillsboro, West Virginia.  With these warm sunny days, and evening rain storms all 20 of our participants’ gardens are thriving here in the Allegheny Mountains.  We invite you to meet a few of our participants below.
Aaron Lutz grew up gardening with his father, and as an adult has grown his own personal gardens for years.  This year he decided to try something new.  Aaron is growing produce to sell to the nearby National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s cafeteria chef.   The High Rocks Grow Appalachia team visited his garden last month, and spent the morning mulching and discussing pest treatment options with Aaron and his son. 
Aaron and his son Aiden mulching the squash.
Aiden and a helpful garden dweller!
Ski Poles: a resourceful recycled tomato stake!
We also stopped by to visit Tommy and Beth Peterson.  The Peterson’s are new to gardening, and moved to West Virginia to teach.  They expressed surprise at how easy gardening is.  That’s the beauty of a healthy garden with no pests, there’s not much work once it’s growing! 
Tommy and Beth Peterson with their first garden, and a shy dog named Fern.
High Rocks, the host site for Grow Appalachia in West Virginia, is a girls youth leadership program that offers a wide variety of programs throughout the year.  During the summer High Rocks runs two camps for middle and high school aged girls.  This year, thanks to Grow Appalachia, High Rocks has a garden in the campground which is supplying much of the fresh produce being eaten during camps.  Here are some photos of High Rocks girls working in the campground garden this June.
Erica, Paolo, and Asa Marks have expanded their garden this year with hopes of preserving more food for themselves for the winter.   We spent the day weeding with them in their garden, and talking about health and access to fresh foods throughout Appalachia, as well as negative stereotypes around Appalachians.  We dreamed up a positive documentary focusing on the positive histories of food in Appalachia, since there is sometimes a lot of focus on the negative sides of health and food culture here.  Too bad there isn’t much time for extra projects this time of year with all of these gardens to visit! 
New gardener, Asa, munches on a pea from the garden, while her mom Erica checks on the veggies.
Grow Appalachia AmeriCorps Members Corey Bonasso and Adrienne Jeurgens work on the far left and right, while Paolo and Asa Marks help in the middle.
Erica and Asa Marks check on their scarlet runner beans which have new trestles to climb thanks to Grow Appalachia AmeriCorps member Corey Bonasso.
Market Grower, Joe Heathcock, is starting a large scale farm this year with support from Grow Appalachia.  Joe has 20 families signed up to receive weekly baskets from his CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and is camping out in his fields some nights in an attempt to keep the deer away.
Proud grower of Kohlrabi
Joe gives Grow Appalachia AmeriCorps member Adrienne Jeurgens a tour of his crops.
Mmmmm.  Lettuce.
Other than site visits we’ve also been organizing and networking to get a great lineup of workshops for the Season.  July’s workshop was hosted and facilitated by one of our Grow Appalachia Community Gardens:  the Pearl S. Buck Museum’s Good Earth Garden.  The Workshop was entitled “How to Grow A Healthy Garden” and was an informal, in garden discussion of organic gardening techniques.  Good Earth Garden volunteers Joe Heathcock (same as above, he not only is running his own farm, he volunteers to coordinate this community garden as well!), Ginger Must, and Sue Groves.
Good Earth Gardens volunteers, Sue, Ginger, and Joe on left begin a tour of their Community Garden for other Grow Appalachia participants and community members.
Volunteer, Joe Heathcock, faces workshop participants and describes how to work with the specific soil conditions of your garden site.
Hard to tell who’s the teacher?  That’s the whole idea!  Everyone brought questions and suggestions to share.
The workshop moves to a shady spot to continue in an open discussion while we all munch on fresh peppers and cucumbers from the garden.
That’s the update from West Virginia for now, hope things are growing well in Kentucky, and beyond!
*Rachel Garringer