Maggie presses the cane with
 the help of GA participants
   This year, with the supervision of one of our very knowledgeable Grow Appalachia participants, we grew a crop of sweet sorghum at the Settlement School. Given that, (1) we were a bit late planting our sorghum, (2)we planted it in the wettest part of the garden, and (3)we neglected to keep it well weeded and thinned out, we were a bit worried that it wouldn’t fully mature and that our efforts (or lack thereof) would be for naught. Luckily, we let the sorghum do its thing and by early October we had cane that was ready to be harvested and processed into syrup! At our fall harvest festival we pressed the cane and started the process of boiling down the juice, in the end we came out with one delicious quart of sorghum!
Our quart of sorghum!

   Sorghum is a crop that has been traditionally grown in Kentucky as far back as the mid 1800’s, Kentucky is now one of 8 states in the southeast and Midwest producing 90% of the United States total sorghum output. Sorghum is a great crop for many Kentucky farmers because it does well in the loam and sandy loam soils that are common in the state. Another ease of growing benefit is that sweet sorghum does NOT require high amounts of organic matter to produce a good crop for syrup. One of the greatest benefits of growing sweet sorghum is its value of about $2000 per acre. Sweet Sorghum as a cash crop is a great example of how keeping it local can really work; most sorghum growers tend to be small producers who see their crop from seed to syrup, and then to a local market; the work and profit of growing sorghum stays within the community and directly benefits those who put the work into producing it. Sorghum is definitely not something that you see filling grocery store shelves identified by the labels of numerous large commercial companies, I for one had never tasted (or heard of) sorghum in my life before coming to KY. 

Seed heads from the sorghum cane

   Sweet sorghum is just one of many varieties of sorghum grown in Kentucky. Sorghum crops can also be used as grain and forage feed for animals, as an ethanol/biofuel source, the grain can be ground into a gluten free flour for cooking and baking, and even popped like popcorn, who knew sorghum was such a versatile crop!

And a couple pictures from the fall harvest festival!
Pumpkin carving
mmm pumpkin guts