This season we are taking a moment to peek under the High Rocks Grow Appalachia tree to appreciate all the gifts we have received throughout the year.

First of all, notice its roots reaching deep and wide into fertile soil.  Organic fertilizers, compost, mulch, and our friendly subterranean elves, the earthworms, have been working all year to create a thriving ecosystem that will support future harvests.  The Grow Appalachia community’s roots are also digging in to rich resources as our families grow wiser to the ways of growing food sustainably and supporting each other healthfully.

Just under the branches of our tree, you’ll see a colorful array of presents.  Salsas, chutneys, dilly beans, popcorn, herb sachets, honey, jams, and more gifts directly from the garden add joy and sparkle to the holiday without subtracting much from the bank account.  Homegrown and homemade gifts tell loved ones that you have been thinking about them all year long—not just on Black Friday.  Holiday tables set with platters of butternut squash, green beans, corn pudding, mashed potatoes and steamed greens reflect the vibrant colors of summer as the world turns white outside.

And then consider the ornaments—the things that set this tree apart from all the others in the forest.  These are the friendships we have made in our county and in the Grow Appalachia extended family.  The friendships with prisoners, children, old-timers, hippies, church folk, “from-aways,” and natives were grown in gardens and cut across the social divides typical in our area.  These relationships, aside from just being fun, deepen our understanding of our community and open our eyes to new ways of doing things.

The star on the top of the tree is the news that we will be able to grow through another season with Grow Appalachia.  Thanks to financial support from John Paul DeJoria, organizational support from David Cooke, Candace Mullins, and Mark Walden at Berea College, and the wealth of know-how offered by our Grow Appalachia peers at other sites, we are looking forward to sharing these gifts with even more families in our area next year.

Wishing everyone an abundant New Year,