Monday night was our “Farmers Markets and Living Local” Workshop here at ASPI.  We were honored to have in attendance David Cooke, Constance, and Wayne Riley of Laurel County Grow Appalachia as well as many of our lovely participants.  Since Sam and I are not very familiar with Rockcastle County activities, we wanted to have the majority of the evening open to discussion about where and how participants have sold and what their experiences have been.  Though, we may have come to realize that what we were able to research is just about the extent of what’s there!  We did cover the schedule of the local Farmers Markets, how Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)’s work, the flexibility of truck stands, and the value of the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Program.  We also covered where to donate fresh food in the area.  During a site visit, one of our participants told us that they visit RV parks and campsites when they have extra produce and people usually buy a few things to eat during their stay.  I thought this was a creative way to sell!!  Another participant at the workshop mentioned that she goes to the Rockcastle Market specifically to support a family that sells there because she knows it is their only income.  This is a true way of thinking “locally”.

The garden is growing well at ASPI.  My pride and joy are the onions I started from seed in our greenhouse in February.  They were the first things planted into the garden and now many of them are as big as my fist.  When David visited he told us that a good onion can be identified by its number of leaves.  If an onion has 9 or more leaves, its going to be big and delicious.  I wonder why and how this rule is true, but I’d like to believe it because many of our onions here have 13-15 leaves and seem to be making more all the time, while also continuing to develop larger bulbs.  Also very heartening is the presence of Nitrogen fixing bacteria on the roots of the legumes I pull.  Here is a photo of a colony on our Fava Beans:

White "nodes" are homes for helpful bacteria!

White “nodes” are homes for helpful bacteria!

The fava beans are “done” so to speak, so I’ve been taking them out to add in new plants and it is great to know that there is a lot of available Nitrogen in that soil for our new seeds to use! In other news, this is the first week of our High School Internship Program where 3 high schoolers from the area work with us and our participants to learn some tenets of gardening and also to lend a hand to community members that need it.  Beginning next week, they will also be running a stand at the Mt. Vernon Farmers Market, so come visit them if you have a chance!!  Yesterday we spent time at Twin Oaks Farm, where Lisa Mink and her family are in their first year of growing for market.  She’s got several plants out and the rain has kept them growing, but the weeds were beginning to compete so we all got down and pulled some.  Lisa has four kids and they’ve been helping her all along, so most of them took the chance to play and visit with their family that live on the land while Sam and the interns and I helped Lisa.  The interns are all very willing and quick to lend a hand!!

We also received some great help from Lisa’s 9 year-old daughter Izzy, seen here with the family dog, Tiny.  Izzy is an enthusiastic weed puller!!

Izzy and Tiny

Izzy and Tiny playing in the garden


Happy Gardening!~Saxon