What a blessing to be among the folks at Red Bird Mission the week of May 5-9, 2014! My name is Jacque Keith and I am a volunteer from Ohio. I so enjoyed seeing the employees, as well as volunteers, and especially enjoyed meeting Don (Grow Appalachia Volunteer) and his wife Donna (Community Outreach Volunteer). I feel I have a whole new family!! As usual when Friday comes, I’m never ready to return home, but there are things needing to be tended to at home. But please know that my husband Carl and I pray for Red Bird workers, volunteers and families daily. I don’t think I can ever express the feelings I have for that beautiful piece of God’s creation!

Since returning home, the raised bed (12X12) has finally been planted (I’m thinking it may need to be increased next spring). I am so excited to watch plants grow! This is all possible because of my volunteer time at Red Bird Mission last summer in 2013 when I became acquainted with Grow Appalachia through Chad, previous GA Coordinator and Chip, and Veteran and GA Intern. I am so grateful for my volunteer time in 2013; during this time I also had the privilege of attending the Grow Appalachia harvest dinner. I so enjoyed meeting many of the folks involved in the program and seeing their beautiful dishes and canned veggies! They were so pleased with their labors. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of that celebration!

Getting Started on the raised beds.

Getting Started on the raised beds.

RBM Volunteer Jacque's raised beds

RBM Volunteer Jacque’s raised beds


RBM Volunteer Jacque's Raised Beds Ready to Fill!

RBM Volunteer Jacque’s Raised Beds Ready to Fill!

This Grow Appalachia experience had a lasting impression on me and the lifestyle I wanted. I loved the idea of not invading the earth to grow vegetables and keeping organic practices. This was a practical, sustainable approach that I knew I could maintain. After more on line research, my husband and I designed and built our raised bed in early November, following the guidelines of preparing it to winter over, by covering the turf with layers of newspapers and leaves. In late March we had a mix of top soil, manure and leaf compost delivered. We also built two compost bins and hope they’ll be ready to use next spring. Our rain barrel is ready to be installed to the house gutter.

I am thankful to have volunteered at Red Bird Mission and personally benefited by the knowledge and encouragement the Grow Appalachia program provides through education, and enthusiastic staff, volunteers and growers!
Jacque Keith