Monday, February 6 , David Cooke, Grow Appalachia Director, Berea College Appalachian Fund Director and Constance Dykhuizen, JP’s Peace Love Happiness Foundation Director, visited us here at Red Bird Mission. We were very excited and extremely honored in welcoming Constance, and David. Especially seeing as this was Constance’s first visit to our site. This also allowed us the opportunity to share our plans and ideals for Grow Appalachia and show them a few things we have going on here at our site.
While here, David and I were talking about the warming weather which brought into mention a new, more accurate climate zoning map done by the USDA .
David shared with me a great link to these maps . http://planthardiness.ars.USDA.gov/PHZNWeb/AboutWhatsNew.aspx .
These new maps have a interactive option, with a map zoom feature providing information down to, and beyond, the users local zip code. Although nothing major, the zones have moved slightly north. This will not have a huge impact on our annual planting but could affect perennials, such as small fruits and fruit trees. I have read that many apple trees, for example, are often planted in the wrong zones resulting in insufficient chilling and poor ripening.
Our site has started its first round of home visits, assisting in the taking of soil samples, offering advice on proper crop rotation and if needed, help with the clearing of their garden plots. We will also be accessing the individual needs of our participants, enabling us to compile an adequate tool list and create a detailed list of the plants and seed needs to allow them to reach their goals. We are seeing great interest in our new Grow Appalachia participants this year and are seeing increased interests in the marketing of their produce.
I feel the strains of the economy have our growers looking forward to an additional source of income. We want to assist them in acquiring all the resources possible to allow them to be successful.