This has been a very busy time for those of us involved in the local foods movement in Floyd County. Our grassroots agriculture support group, Appalachian Roots, has won a grant to promote our Floyd County Farmers’ Market and with that award comes a lot of additional work on top of the usual spring garden season stuff. And a lot of meetings.
First there was the first ever Pike County Seed Swap hosted by the Pike County Extension Office and loaded with not only great people with awesome seed selections but also very interested training classes. I attended the class on winter gardening taught by Cathy Rehmeyer. Cathy lives and gardens in Pikeville on a ½ acre lot that includes her house. I’m sure most of you have seen her website, www.motherofahubbard.com and if you haven’t you should. I also learned about the Florida weave for “staking” tomatoes. From experience I can tell you the trick to the weave is start as soon as your tomato plants are 12” high or you will be playing catch up all season. And just incase you are wondering why a Floyd County local foods advocate would be attending an event in Pike County, because we are a region and the county lines are only on the map.
The next meeting was last week when we held the second community forum at the Big Sandy Community and Technical College on the economic and health benefits to supporting a local foods system dubbed the “Farm to Fork Forum”. In the light of the latest KY health survey which placed Floyd County at 120th , our BSCTC hostess, Tammy Ball invited Thursa Slone Director of the Floyd County Health Department and Brenda Fish Food Service Director for Floyd County Schools to speak on their organization’s commitment to supporting fresh, locally grown food. Grow Appalachia was well represented by myself, Todd Howard, local farmer and field coordinator for St Vincent’s Grow Appalachia program and Mike Lewis, from Growing Warriors.
Several days later, I was pleased to participate in a training we had requested from Community Farm Alliance on developing a “Friends of the Market” group for the Floyd County Farmers’ Market. I had tried to start one last year with limited success so Alexa Arnold came to the Pike County Extension Office and gave representatives from five counties (Floyd, Pike, Letcher, Perry and Mingo, WV) lots of information on how to go about setting up a “Friends” group and what to do once you have your group established. In addition to Alexa’s presentation, Miranda Hileman from the UK Extension Service and Sharon Spencer, KY Department of Agriculture’s Farmers’ Market Marketing Specialist gave us valuable tips and suggestions on how to develop our markets.
And finally, I was supposed to attend my first Farmers’ Market Producers meeting last Thursday when the Floyd County Market group held an open meeting for anyone interested in selling at the 2013 Market. We are hoping to have a Grow Appalachia table at the Market where our families who are not full fledged producers can still have a place to sell their “extra”. Unfortunately, life got in the way of that one but since I am working closely with the market, they caught me up after the fact.
Of course that was in addition to all the Grow Appalachia meetings and conferences I have had this month-just like most of you. And because a blog post isn’t a full post without pictures I am attaching a couple I took at the Farm to Fork Local Foods Forum. I finally found a good use for those donated treated seeds.