Hello everyone.  My name is Alex Sanders and I am the Grow Appalachia Garden Program Site Supervisor at Project Worth Outreach in Menifee County, Kentucky. 

Today, I want to tell you how the concept of organic gardening is spreading in our region.  We have completed recruiting all of our gardeners.   We have ordered, received and distributed most of our seeds and fertilizer.  We have held several meetings since January.   Then one day last week. while working on paperwork,  I received a telephone call from Angie Baker, Preschool teacher at Bott’s Elementary, located on the other side of the county.  Mrs. Baker told me who she was and informed me that she had heard about a wonderful organic gardening program that we offer at Project Worth Outreach called Grow Appalachia and could I tell her about it.  Now anyone that knows me will tell you I will talk about Grow Appalachia Gardening to anyone for as long as they are willing to listen.  So, I began to tell her all about Grow Appalachia Gardening and what a wonderful program it is and how many families we had participating just at Project Worth Outreach, not to mention, the other 48 organizations that are participating in the program this year.  I also informed Mrs. Baker how much produce we, as a group, have grown and harvested in our first two years in Grow Appalachia Gardening.  I also told her how many people were involved and of that number, 65 of those were under the age of 25.   To say the least, she was impressed and her interest in the program was increasing.  Her next question was how can her class get involved with this program.  I told her the process and she wanted to know if her class could get involved.  I asked her exactly what she would ask us to do since we are three and a half months into the program.  She stated that it would not be much.  She had already purchase her seeds.  She said she has 21  5-7 year old students and they on had two 3′ X 4′ raised beds.  She has already started a segment on gardening and when she heard about Project Worth Outreach’s Grow Appalachia Gardening Program she thought that maybe we could form a partnership that may be beneficial to both parties.  I couldn’t agree more and I told her that I would discuss this with Gail Mills, Grow Appalachia Gardening Program Project Coordinator.   Gail Mills has been attending meetings during all of my discussions with Mrs. Baker and I couldn’t wait to discuss the possible partnership with Mrs. Baker’s class.  When Monday morning arrived and Gail got to the office, I requested a meeting with her as soon as she was available.  Knowing Gail the way I do and how much I know Gail loves kids I thought she would at least entertain the possibility of partnering with Mrs. Baker’s preschool class.  Was I completely surprised.  Gail told me to set up a meeting with the class but I would have to attend this meeting alone and gather information for her because she still had a couple of meetings to attend.  She also told me that this was a great opportunity to discuss the possibility, with the powers that be at Bott’s Elementary,  of including the whole school, grades preschool-5th grade next year.  Wow, what a wonderful opportunity. So I set up and went to the meeting with the preschool class at Bott’s Elementary and met Mrs. Baker’s students as they cleaned the weeds out of their raised beds.  Afterward we held a question and answer session.  These children were very talkative and I enjoyed the experience.   Now, it was time for the children to go to lunch and it was Mrs. Baker’s planning period.  She asked me if I could stay for a few extra minutes because she had a couple of questions for me.  I agreed and she wanted to know if she could invite the other preschool class to participate in this program also.  This would make the total number of 5-7 year olds involed in the program baloon to 42.  This is going to be a very interesting project.  I told her  that I thought that would be ok.  Then she informed me that the school had decided to provide materials so they could add a 4′ X 8′ raised bed.  This tells me that the school administration seems to be in agreement with this partnership.  After Gail completed her meetings, we met again and I told Gail about my meeting with the children and Mrs. Baker and her request.  The next day Gail called Mrs. Baker and set up a meeting between herself, me and Mrs. Baker to iron out the final details of the project.   Also, at this meeting Gail is going to speak to the class and have a question and answer session.

In closing, I like to say that I am really looking forward to this partnership with Mrs. Baker’s class and Bott’s Elementary.  Also, I am looking forward to partnering with the whole school next year.  I understand that in terms of harvest this year the numbers will be low but the introduction to organic gardening at this age will be priceless.  Have a great week and happy gardening.