by Rhonda Bowling

Being the first year as a full partner, we are trying to keep up to speed with supply orders and  deadlines as we navigate this new world of Grow Appalachia.  We have a fabulous group of sites assembled, including 4 group gardens and 10 family gardens encompassing the full range of levels of experience and gardening scenarios.  The Grillo tractor/tiller and the organic fertilizer are ordered, and many of our participants have been attending classes and getting ready for the growing season.  We are just getting our assistants in place to help with maintenance and deliveries and other duties.  Our gardens are located in Jackson County and Clay County, Kentucky.

At a recent site visit to discuss the Jackson County Jail garden, employee Darren Gay gave me a tour of the new greenhouse that is partially assembled at the jail.  Having the greenhouse will help this garden to expand and to save even more costs for the county each year.  “We purchased the greenhouse through our commissary profits”, said Darren Gay.  The jail sells small items like sodas and snacks, and with any profits, they are required to put those funds back into some project that will benefit the inmates.  There is no better way to benefit them than nutritionally, and it also serves to save taxpayer money for the county.  The greenhouse is a great addition to the jail garden.

Also, the Jackson County Food Bank manager called our Grow Appalachia site this past week because a donor wanted seed potatoes given to people who would be planting gardens.  She asked if we could use any seed potatoes.  We were able to get enough seed potatoes free for all of our gardens.  This is something that would have normally been purchased with Grow Appalachia funds, so this donation will enable our funding to go further.

Although we may be a little lost out there at the moment, these great happenings are so inspiring to help us learn as we go, and we are looking forward to a very successful first year!