Hello, my name is Alex Sanders and I am the Site Supervisor for the Grow Appalachia Gardening Program at Project Worth Outreach in Menifee County, Kentucky.

As I sit here contemplating my last blog post for the 2013 Grow Appalachia Garden Program I cannot believe that another year is about to end.   It seems like it was not that long ago that we began our first year with the Grow Appalachia Garden Program and now we are about to end our second year and begin our third year.   Time sure does fly when you enjoy what you are doing.

As I see it, this time of year is a great time to reflect on what has transpired in the last twelve months. This year we went from 35 families in Menifee County, Kentucky to 76 families in Menifee, Rowan, Bath, Elliott and Morgan counties.   I met a lot of great people and most of them will return in 2014 to garden with Grow Appalachia.   Just to put a few numbers out there, we had within our garden group 238 family members with 122 male and 116 female.   The age range for our gardeners was 4-81. We had 77 gardeners under the age of 20 and 101 gardeners under the age of 30.   We had 40 teenagers within our garden group.   We had 61 first time Grow Appalachia gardeners and 19 families that raised their first garden ever.   Our 2013 Grow Appalachia Garden Program participants also sold over $1,000.00 worth of produce and raised nearly 1,000.00 bushel of produce collectively that weighed in at approximately 37,000 pounds of produce.   This group made for an interesting and enjoyable year.   Thanks to all the Project Worth Outreach Grow Appalachia gardeners for a successful year.   You have set the bar very high for the 2014 Grow Appalachia Gardening Program participants.   To close out the 2013 Grow Appalachia Gardening Program all we have left to do is submit our final report which should be completed any day now.

As we turn our attention to 2014, we are very excited to announce we are already ahead of were we were the first two years we have participated in the Grow Appalachia Gardening Program.   We have already started putting together our informational packet for our first meeting.   We have scheduled all of our meetings for next year along with the meeting topics and guest speakers. We have reserved the Project Worth Outreach Community Center and the Rowan County Public Library conference room for all of our meetings throughout 2014.   We have ordered and received our first seeds for 2014 in the amount of 20,000 ramp seeds.   We are in the process of putting the final touches on our Grow Appalachia Gardening Program participants contract.   We have 42 families firmly committed and about 60 showing strong interest in participating in the garden program.   Our target area is 75-80.   I have no doubt that we will reach our goal easily before our first meeting in January.   We are looking for a very good year in 2014 and we hope that all our gardeners throughout the family of Grow Appalachia Gardening Programs have a wonderful and exciting year.

At this point I would like to say that we have seen and heard about the impact this program has had on the families in our area.   They have told us how the food they have harvested and preserved has made a difference each and every month.   They have informed us that some months they would have struggled to feed their families without the produce they harvested and preserved.   In their words the program has been a Godsend.

Now I would like to say thank you to all the people in the Grow Appalachia family for their dedication and hard work on behalf of all the garden participants.   A special thanks to David, Mark and Candace for all the assistance and guidance they have provided me and the Grow Appalachia family as a whole.   I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Happy New Year.