Week 7/5/2011 through 7/7/2011


Robert Griffin’s garden, his enormous cabbages and behind that is the plot of beans that he had just harvested and planted radishes, which were already growing.
                After an amazing Fourth of July weekend at Red Bird Mission including the 90th anniversary of Red Bird, which hosted a huge concert with fireworks, we started to see the hard work of these gardeners pay off.  The 90th anniversary was an awesome time, although it was a humid and hot day.  The GROW Appalachia staff set up a booth at the event selling banana peppers, squash, and a variety of other fresh vegetables.  The bands that participated included the very well-known; Fireflight, Transform DJ’s, and Red Bird’s very own Kevin Wilson and Jason Dickerson from Filtered Red. 
                After the excitement of the weekend, GROW Appalachia had us doing some site visits to drop off canning supplies to first year participants.  After the turnout for the canning class and the informative instructions that had been given out, I believe people were excited and ready to save their harvests to get them through the tough winters here in the mountains.  

                We had a pretty productive day in getting lots of pictures and handing out the supplies.  The first receiver of the canning supplies was Natalia.  While we were at the Elderly Apartments, we took a look at their fantastic garden. 

We found Sue and Armilda having a bean snapping party on the bench next to the garden.  They were very proud of their bean harvest.  All of the beans looked so perfect, every one of the beans seemed the same length and size.  It gave me the comforting feeling of snapping beans that my grandpa gave us with my mom throughout my childhood. 

The women brought to our attention that they believe a bear has been vandalizing their garden.  I had to go and see the evidence myself since we don’t get very many bears in the Northern Kentucky area.  I saw the plentiful amounts of deer tracks, snapped limbs, and half eaten plants throughout the garden.  Then came the corn that had been snapped in half and pushed down.  Chad definitely knew it was a bear by the looks of it.  I quickly imagined what it would have been like to be there to see that bear playing in the corn. 
                Then we were quickly off to deliver the rest of the canning supplies, we knew it was going to be a busy day of deliveries.  We visited Chad and his mother’s garden, whom are a part of the GROW Appalachia program.  Chad’s garden was on the other side of a road across a creek. It was AWSOME!  I was a little scared to cross the creek because of the echoes of warnings of the different types of snakes down here.  Then we took a look at Chad’s mother’s garden whom was growing a variety of vegetables and he was excited to show us the large patch of watermelon growing in a field and he discussed with us his future plans of planting more crops next year. 

You can see the mounds of watermelon in a row and Chad actually went back later that day and tilled around these plants for weeds. 
Overall, everyone was pretty happy with receiving their new canners and jars from the GROW Appalachia program.  It’s always nice to hear how people really appreciate this program.  They are more than happy to show us their gardens and farm animals from the Heifer program.  One of the farms that we visited was across a deep creek, where we had to go across several low concrete bridges.   Chad mentioned that the locals have to cross the swinging bridges to get to the other side in case of floods.  To me, these bridges looked like something out of an action movie, where one step could be your last.  I look up to this mountain culture here, communities can pull together in emergencies and use the resources of the mountains to support themselves. 
                Back to the garden, this man ed salmons was out working in the summer heat and his garden had been neatly maintained.  He was more than happy to take a picture of the garden with himself in front of it.  He was also proud of his goats that were crying across the field.  He said, they were crying because they were ready to eat.  We walked down to the goat house and when he walked through that fence, the goats tails were wagging with happiness.  You could tell he really loved his goats and they liked him too.  He had about three or four babies to show off, in which one wasn’t used to the electric fencing, accidentally ran into it and shouted.  It was a great site to see that both of the programs, Heifer International and GROW Appalachia were becoming a support for resident s here in Appalachia and they had a pride for what they were doing.  To me, it is so exciting to see a society get back to it’s roots in agriculture! 
                The next stop that we made was an olde
r man, Herbert Couch, who was also putting some hard work into his garden.  We took his picture with some of the tools that had been supplied by GROW Appalachia.  Chad was speaking with him and it seemed that his health had not been doing too well.  This hard work seemed to be a fuel source to some of the older participants.  They were hard workers, who loved their gardening and had more incites that any book could tell you on gardening. 
                Here at Red Bird, we are used to coming up with new resources to use in our gardens and one of the best that we have found is the Kentucky cane.  This resource looks like bamboo and most of it grows along the creek banks.  It is very flexible and we have used it for building our early childhood development teepee’s, the poles for the green beans to climb up, and I am planning on using it to build one of the cold frames for a four season garden. 
                Throughout this week, it seems that a lot of people are beginning to harvest their crops and starting preserving their fruits and vegetables.   It won’t be such a bad winter when the GROW  Appalachia participants will be eating garden fresh vegetables, jams, jellies, salsas, and pickled veggies while everyone else is rushing the grocery stores to stock up because of these harsh mountain roads. 
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