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