This being our final blog for the 2013 year I felt it would be a great time to take a look back at our Grow Appalachia Program here at Red Bird Mission and share some of the many things we have accomplished in the past year.

Our site assisted 55 families in Leslie, Clay, and Bell counties. We began the year with 24 first year participants and included 5 community gardens into our program that included school gardens, church gardens, an elderly apartment garden and a senior citizen center garden allowing us to work with an age range starting at 4 and rising to 74 years of age.

2013 brought our most successful year with our farmers market ever with vendors selling from early July through mid-October. We had 21 vendors who sold approximately $3,500 worth of produce to the people in our community and we saw a definite increase in the number of returning costumers we were getting every week.

Our participants were enabled to produce around 55,000 pounds of produce through the year, nearly half of which  was preserved. We aided 6 of our participants in getting certified to sell value-added products from their farm by providing them funding and transportation to a home based microprocessors training held at the Laurel County Extension Office. We also had very good attendance to our required monthly training and received very good feedback from our participants about the usefulness of the information gained and the knowledge of the presenters.

We are really seeing the impact this program is having in our community and are looking forward to the 2014 year and are very thankful to all the many people that make Grow Appalachia possible.

Merry Christmas everyone! I look forward to working with you all next year.