Reclaiming our Food Independence

I was pleased to be invited to be the speaker at the local DAR meeting at the Cowan Community Center in March.    I was somewhat nervous about this as the ladies in DAR are women I have known and respected for many years.    My fears were alleviated a few days before I presented, when I saw a FB post by Joyce Pinson of Friends Drift Inn and all agriculture related.   Joyce had recently spoken at the Pikeville DAR.   She had made the connection to Thomas Jefferson and his kitchen garden.   Thanks Joyce!

Having this framework as my guiding principal made the presentation connect with me.    We talked about the efforts of Thomas Jefferson in record keeping for farmer’s market in Washington, DC.   DAR participants were given heirloom seeds from his farm in Monticello.  We talked about the need to reclaim our independence by becoming more responsible for our food security.

Visiting with the DAR was a pleasure and am appreciative of any opportunity to talk about the good of Grow Appalachia and the good that is happening with gardening in Letcher County.


Grow Appalachia participants study Bernie's Almanac Calendar

Grow Appalachia participants study Bernie’s Almanac Calendar

In a few days we gathered back at the Cowan Community Center for our garden planning meeting.   We had Tony Slone, experience gardener talk with our group about garden planning.   All of our participants received an Almanac and much of the conversation was about planting by the signs.   I made a mental note to have Bernie calendars printed for Grow Appalachia next year and provide to our participants.  My other reflection was much like Sister KC at Saint Vincent Mission said in an earlier post, is that I have underestimated the wealth of knowledge that many of our participants come with.  In this session we tried to involve participants more, but I will make sure I plan into the structure of our meetings that we learn not only from a presenter, but from each other.  A common theme throughout this gathering, was the members who were there searching for the quick answers and just “old fashioned” rules for best planting times, they didn’t come easily.  Many of our participants, expressed a sadness and wistfulness for older family members who are gone that seemed to instinctively know when best to plant and so many answers that were only a phone call or a visit away.   We hope to do a better job this year in recording more of our rich history in gardening and Appalachian food.


Grow Appalachia volunteer, Pat Yinger, accepts paperwork from new participants.

Grow Appalachia volunteer, Pat Yinger,                                                                                                                                    accepts paperwork from new participants.

Also, like Sister KC, I was pre-occupied and can’t show the pictures of the crowd, but we had over 60 participants present, arriving with notebooks and pencils.  Our group was diverse, although the pictures don’t reflect it.  When participants left those who had all their paperwork in were given a $40 Cash for Crops certificate to redeem at a local greenhouse and farmers supply store for approved and needed supplies.

Looking forward to our next session.