Our Grow Appalachia Teens, Food Commanders, from Rural Resources in East Tennessee went on their first garden tour. They were excited to see the raised beds and use of tires in the garden. I wish I had pictures to share, but the keys got locked into the car, and I could not get the camera out. I tried to magically make it pass through the door, but it would not listen to me. (I am not exactly sure why) The teens began buzzing about the gardens to go in their own back yards. Before seeing this garden, the teens were saying they had some container areas they could use at home, or use the ground to till a spot. After seeing the raised beds and how easy they are to make and maintain, the teens were of different minds. Almost every teen was wanting strawberries and to put a raised bed in. I do have two or three that have existing gardens, so we are going to soil test, amend, and plant the areas they have been using.
We also hosted a field trip from one of our local schools. The students were pre-k and adorable. They visited the rabbits and studied how they interact, eat, and take care of their young; they hunted for worms and learned about vermi-composting; seed planting went on in the greenhouse; fresh veggies were used to demonstrate how they help your body part and how they resemble that body part (ie a carrot helps your eyes. When sliced, the inside of the carrot resembles an eye); they met Bella, our Jersey milking cow, and made fresh butter; they listened to a story about farming; and they were able to have a picnic lunch at the creek and explore the creek bed.
We will be going around to our teens homes this week and beginning of next for site visits. We will be taking soil samples for those who have existing gardens and making notes of where new raised beds are to go in. We will be preparing seeds for disbursement, gathering tools, gathering building materials, and checking in with parents to make sure they are fully aware of these gardens! We are extremely excited to do this! We have been working with teens for 6 years, teaching them how to garden, cook, and develop small businesses. Putting gardens in their own back yard is a major step towards food security for these teens and families. We cannot wait to see the results!