This is Rachel writing from High Rocks Grow Appalachia in Hillsboro, WV.  I was out of town last weekend, and when I returned home I was thrilled to see that Fall has arrived in full force.  The trees are beginning their annual parade of color, and the air smells like crushed leaves.

   As the plants themselves wind down in preparation for winter, so do we here with Grow Appalachia.  Gardens are mostly finished (no) thanks to an early frost, and we are distributing winter rye and hairy vetch as cover crops to our participants.  Several of our larger market growers are still selling lettuce, kale, and other hearty fall crops.  Tomorrow we will have an end of the year celebration potluck, to talk about how this year has been, share garden stories (and the last of the garden food!), and talk about how next year might be different.

   Our last workshop of this season was about Seed Saving and the importance of preserving Heirloom Seeds as GMO Seeds become ever more prevalent.  The workshop was led by two local farmers who have been growing food, and saving seeds in Pocahontas and Greenbrier Counties for years.  We held the workshop outside at the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Museum.  The Museum is one of our participants and has had one of the most successful gardens in the program this year.  They planted in the historic location of the garden, and were thrilled to learn that even though nothing had been grown there for decades, the soil had been fantastically prepared back in the old days when it was used to feed the Buck Family.

 Sam Arbogast brought with him a slew of seeds he had saved, and gave a detailed description of how to save seeds from a variety of plants.  He explained that his first memories of seed saving come from watching his mother do it, but that as a child he had no interest in it.  It was only years later after Sam returned from the military that he became interested in this.

Sam Arbogast describing how to save seeds.

A Full House of all ages came to learn about this historic gardening practice.

Participants Listen Closely as Evening Draws Near.

Next Mark Gillenwater spoke about the dangers of gardening with GMO seeds and their negative impacts on plants, animals, and diversity of foods. 
All around it was a very successful workshop, and was the best attended of any we’ve held all year!  Now, we are looking forward to some time to really plan for how to improve the program for next year.  And as we try to can and press as many apples as possible, we are also trying to preserve all of the knowledge we have gained over the past growing season.  It has been quite educational, and a lot of fun!