Author: Saxon Brown

I’ve been busy in Berea and have been away from the ASPI garden most of the past two weeks, which is also the period in which it RAINED!  Which means that on my return today to the ASPI office, there was a pound of okra to harvest, 12 pounds of potatoes, handfuls of beans, a pound of turnips, several ripe tomatoes and scores more on their way, a bush of lamb’s quarters, 4 cucumbers and 2 heads of cabbage.  It’s our biggest harvest yet in one day and considering that our garden started out late and looked puny for a long while after, we feel pretty good here in Mt. Vernon!  We also have some 10 ft tall sunflowers for the enjoyment of bug, bird and person passing by. 

Hank pondering his plants

On the 3rd of July, Nancy and I had the pleasure of visiting the home and garden of Hank Gevenon, a very friendly and zany Mt. Vernon resident.  His garden is not to its fullest this year because Hank’s work has taken much of his time this summer and without rain, its taken an especially hard hit.  Lucky for him, his cover crop of wheat is just enough to make some brew and he’ll be getting sweet potatoes and potatoes with this improved weather.  In spite of his garden, Hank’s ability to think creatively and work hard is reflected all over his property.  The man is a true inventor.  He has built geodesic domes to house a blacksmithing forge and a swimming pool so that he and his wife may use them year round.  He showed us several of his life-saving inventions while we were visiting, including a body-cooling device and a portable eye-wash.  Hank also was gracious enough to serve us a delicious meal of venison during our visit!  He is a great asset to the Grow Appalachia program and hopefully in coming years we will be able to harness some of his brain power, if need be and if he is not so busy with work!

Frances and Nancy in the Gabbard’s gorgeous garden

Later that afternoon we also visited the home of Frances Gabbard and her family.  Their garden is amazing!  Frances says all the praise is owed to her husband, who each evening fills 55 gallon drums with water from the nearby creek and hauls it to the plants–as many times as it takes to get them good and soaked.  They had corn, beans, tomatoes, squashes, watermelons and cucumbers.  On the edge of their garden grew a line of grapes.  They also had blueberries and vegetable plants mixed in with the landscaping around their porch.  Frances said she couldn’t keep up with the squash, giving Nancy and I each a fresh zucchini and telling us that she sometimes handed them out at church!  Besides having a great garden, she had 3 smiling grandkids show up at her door as were leaving, excited to see their granny.

Matt with his terracing and hoop house structure

Our last stop of the day was to Matt Wegner’s farm by Anglin Falls.  Matt’s work is impressive.  He has terraced gardens on a hillside growing everything from greens to strawberries to squash, a hoop house in the works, hundreds of inoculated mushroom logs, and pawpaw plantings.  Matt is not just a home-gardener, he told us he sells mostly mushrooms to restaurants in lexington and the hoop house would allow him to sell transplants and get an earlier start in coming years.  Matt’s demeanor is a very calming one, he is humble about his work, but his diligence and care shows all around him.

Just a few of Matt’s many mushroom logs

Tonight is our workshop on Fall plantings, we’ll be distributing Fall seeds and talking with participants about the “how’s and what’s” of growing food in cooler weather (it’s hard to imagine, I know, but we hope it comes eventually!).