We have been very busy with the teen program at Rural Resources, in East Tennessee. I have been trying to visit all the teen homes from our Food Commanders group to discuss with their families about placing gardens in their back yards. I managed to visit half the families, with the other half coming up this week. I visited one home, that I have not been to for about three years. How odd it feels walking into a place you have not been in a while. I remember stepping back into my old middle school – it seemed smaller than I remembered, new faces, new paint, just not that same old feeling when I used to attend. But, walking into this home that has had two other teens participate in my program, offered the same warm welcome and the same warm faces.
The Chandler family have been strong supporters of the teen program and the first two sisters, Kalen and Kendall, found interest, purpose, and their own callings in the program. Kendall, the oldest, became known as the plant whisperer. We reminisced over how she used to talk to the plants, and several of us (me included), thought this was sweet but is not going to do anything. But, after watching her plants over a few days, I honestly believe they grew more than the others! Kendall used to entertain visitors at the farm with her excellent public speaking skills. She was a go getter in her pink tutu.
Kendall has since graduated from high school and has a precious daughter of her own. The dream is one day she will be a part of this program and enjoy like her mother did.
Kalen, the middle sister, has also graduated and is attending college in middle Tennessee to become a clothing designer. Kalen was just as interesting as Kendall, a bit more quieter, but she had her unique talent as well. Kalen liked to whisper to the worms. Kalen’s teen group led a workshop on composting. She became very intimate with worms, insisting that talking to them would help them grow and feel loved. I do not have a picture of this, but I thought I did. I think when our office burned down, I lost the picture. However, here is a beautiful picture of Kalen (and her gorgeous eyes) when she was in our program:
After hugging and reminiscing with my two older teens, there showed up mom in the kitchen. The big welcome smile, as usual, and the words, “we are so excited that Rural Resources is back in our home”. How heart felt and at home I was. This family has always been supportive and opened their hearts to what we are all about.
Savannah, the youngest sister, and newest to the program, is excited about the garden, along with the whole family. This family is not unfamiliar with gardening or organic. They have a small garden that their grandmother used to use and are excited to put it back in use. As Savannah, Kendall, and I walked through the back yard, it was so exciting for the two to share what their plans were – a small chicken coop to raise chickens since they go through a dozen eggs a day (if they could), a compost pile, and plans for the garden that the entire family will help with – all these girls including: mom, dad, and brother. Then came: Ms. Debbie, how can we build a chicken coop, we have some ideas? And where is the best spot for the compost pile? The joy I felt as I know this program has greatly impacted this family and has them spinning their wheels on how to be more efficient with what they have. The garden is a plus for them – the ability to get it going again, implement the soil, grow food that can help feed them throughout this summer and into the winter.
Don’t think I left before I held the baby! She was asleep when I got there, but woke up just in time to talk and smile with me, as I sat at the kitchen table talking with mom and the girls about all the potentials. I couldn’t leave without taking a picture of all my girls and the future of our program! Now, I wait to see what Savannah’s special trait will be at Rural Resources with much excitement as I have the opportunity to be a part of this family once again!