Sr. KC here at St Vincent Mission where we are always looking for ways to expand our outreach. The Grow Appalachia Program has been a wonderful vehicle for that expansion. We not only work with families in helping them grow and preserve more of their own food but we are helping to establish a Friends of the Market support group for the Floyd County Farmer’s Market and we are working in all levels of the education system here in Floyd County. This post is about one of those education partners–The Big Sandy Community and Technical College.
In February, Sr. Kathleen and I met with Thomas Vierheller, Science Department chair about the possibility of starting a community garden at the college. The idea was met with great enthusiasm and while the paperwork took an awful long time we finally broke ground on the garden in April with five 20′ x 4′ raised beds. As noted in earlier posts, the beds have been tended by college and community folks and the food raised has all been donated to local food pantries.
At one of our first meetings, Tom had mentioned that he would love to use a bed for his botany class but unfortunately they only met in the fall “after planting season”. I quickly pointed out that one of the goals of the Grow Appalachia program is to show how to extend planting seasons. “There are several crops that do quite well in the cooler fall weather”, I told him. “And there are ways to extend the growing season well into the fall”.
Two weeks ago the botany class did their first lab in the outdoor classroom of the community garden. They planted a four foot section of lettuce at one end of the bed, a four foot section of snow peas at the other end and twenty-four broccoli plants in the middle. The lettuce and broccoli will be covered with row cover while the peas will be left open for pollination purposes. And the best part is since this is a college class, there will be tons of documentation–paperwork that I don’t have to do!! I will keep you informed on the progress of the beds, the class and the project. Until then, stay green and growing.