Cowan Community Center Ramblings

Cowan Community Center Ramblings

Hilary and I made an executive decision this afternoon to get out and visit Grow Appalachia participants and get out of the office.   We loaded Barley in the back of the truck and were going to check out possibilities and progress on the community garden.    This may have been the best decision made in a good while.    It was a great day to be out and about and got the encouragement we needed.   I know Barley enjoyed getting out of the office.

Roadside Stand on Cowan.

Roadside Stand on Cowan.

Our first stop was Peddler’s Produce, home of Grow Appalachia participant Shane Lucas.   Shane is a coal miner who is currently laid off, which has given him plenty of time to get a head start on his gardening projects.    Shane was fishing today, but we had a great visit with his family.    Shane opened his roadside stand last year and hopes for even more business this year.    Plans are in the work for a bigger building already to accommodate the extra produce.

Shane Lucas' high tunnel on Cowan.

Shane Lucas’ high tunnel on Cowan.

We were excited to see the high tunnel that Connie Sturgill, Soil Conservation Specialist with NCRS USDA had  helped in getting up and going with Shane.    This high tunnel is 30X72 and is filled w/young tomato plants and much promise right now.

We made a few more stops with neighbors and made plans for the community garden.    The community garden is close to Kingdom Come, so we made a detour.   Traffic was almost at a standstill on Kingdom Come Creek today, but the ride was sweet.

Traffic was in no hurry today on Kingdom Come Creek.

Traffic was in no hurry today on Kingdom Come Creek.

After leaving Kingdom Come, we stopped off at a local greenhouse owned and operated by David Tyler.    David was so generous with his time, stopping to talk and share stories, advise on how to transplant aloe plant and introduce us to many varieties of his heirloom tomatoes.    Grow Appalachia participants were given certificates to redeem at his greenhouse and they will have many beautiful choices.    David is a former coal truck driver, but is enjoying this now and in addition to the greenhouse, which he hopes to expand next year, he has many little experiments successfully going on.    David said last year he had seen more business and felt that was due to the economy and folks feeling the need to grow more of their food not only for better health and taste, but also to save on the grocery bill.   He expects this season to be bigger than last.   I asked if he thought there was a possibility for growth and possible economic success for our community with agriculture, he shared he did, but we needed a marketing plan and a wider audience to sell produce to.    Let’s work on that!

David Tyler, owner/operator of Plant Place on Lower Dry Fork.

David Tyler, owner/operator of Plant Place on Lower Dry Fork.

David is ready with his beautiful plants and he provides a wonderful service to our community.   In addition to the greenhouse he shared he was really becoming interested in Aquaponics and was experimenting with that in a smaller greenhouse.    We asked for a look and got to see his set up.   I can’t say that I understand it completely, but I do understand the nice lettuce heads and onions and plants he is growing.   David just became interested in this and created his own system.    We hope to have a tour of his set up w/Grow Appalachia participants shortly.

2014-03-31 17.10.11 2014-03-31 17.10.01 2014-03-31 17.08.20

David’s mini garden in his aquaponics set up.    Look for more to come as he considers expanding in this direction.

2014-03-31 17.45.54  We ended the day on Little Dry Fork and planning for the garden here and feeling on top of the world.


  1. Carol Ison

    I really enjoyed your tour yesterday, felt like I was right in the truck with you. Hope you get more of those in this spring. Everyone should take a day off this spring and venture into Kingdom Come. (It’s really a very special place, not what you have always thought it was.)

    Happy to hear about all of the interest and efforts going into expanding the agricultural opportunities here in Letcher County, and I am proud of all of the agencies and organizations working together to bring this about. So glad that Cowan Community Center can be a part of it. I wish you a very healthy and productive growing season this year.

    Carol Ison, Director
    Cowan Community Center

  2. Greta

    David just needs to get the word out. An advertising rule of thumb is, one person will tell five other people about something good. David could also run an ad in the Mt. Eagle. I had no idea that we had a good place like his in Letcher County.
    p.s. I am headed out the door to plant two “colossal chestnuts”, a European hybrid, different than Chinese hybrids.

    1. Valerie

      You will enjoy talking with him and love his plants. Hope the planting went well, I don’t believe a day goes by that you don’t plant something. We’ll come your way on our next visit if that works for you…love to see all you’ve got growing.

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