Two exciting things happened at Appalachia–Science in the Public Interest in our Grow Appalachia program this past week.  First, there was a special meeting on Tuesday night to gather participants, talk gardening and follow up on any questions and needs people had.  Nancy commented that one of the things that is lost when doing workshops led by experts is the casual community building that comes along with just talking and exchanging ideas in a group, so the special meeting was her solution.  Participants discussed thistle infestations, container gardening, how to control bugs organically, and seed swapping.  It was great to see people that might not otherwise strike up a conversation sitting together laughing, sharing ideas and contact info, and enjoying themselves in our modest office building.  Community really does make all the difference, especially in agricultural pursuits.

The sandbox beans

The next awesome occurrence(s) were several home visits on Thursday.  Nancy and I stopped off and talked to 6 different participants that day, all with different set-ups and styles of gardening.  Most everybody that had a large garden had what you’d expect: corn, squash, beans, potatoes….  The first woman we visited had cabbages probably 1 foot across!  Which for me, a fairly novice gardener, seems gigantic, but she told us her aunt grew a 16 pounder once!  Next we visited Charlotte, a retired school teacher, who besides serving a great glass of tea, has a great big vegetable garden and quite the flower garden bordering her property.  Our next stop was to a family with 3 boys, all hard at work planting another garden when we came to visit.  This family had beans taller than any I’ve seen yet and they were beginning to bloom.
After visiting those folks in the county, Nancy and I returned to Mount Vernon and visited a few ladies that live in town.  One has such poor soil, probably due to an old mine site up the hill from her property, that she has to do all her growing in pots.  Her mantra? “I need all the pots and topsoil I can get!”  The next home visit was to Mary’s house on the edge of town, a home with a great view of the setting sun.  Mary has a few tomatoes in, which she says, “Look just like heaven!”  Our last visit was to a home east of town, with lots of little garden plots around the property.  This participant is enthusiastic to learn about organic methods.  My favorite part of her set up?  Her grandkids planted beans in their sandbox and they were actually thriving!  The wonders of home visits!