Our Grow Appalachia group, Food Commanders, spent Friday morning in the garden picking basil and tomatoes to make a pesto pasta salad.  East Tennessee has been seeing some regular rain, finally!!!!  Our plants have been doing wonderful, and we are finally getting some grape tomatoes.  We spent the morning showing the teens how to make tasty dishes from your garden – farm to table!  How amazing it was to be able to go out into the garden, pick what we need, go under the tent, and begin preparing a pesto dish.

0711140922 0711140926

The teens washed the basil, and began pulling the leaves off.  We had a food processor set up to chop the basil leaves, add in the olive oil, and seasonings.  A couple of teens also chopped some of the tomatoes to mix into the pasta salad.  This was their first time using knives, and the two young men were very focused on cutting the tomatoes to perfection.

0711140926a 0711141054

They cooked up some elbow pasta and combined everything together for a delicious pesto pasta snack.  So, we had mixed reviews, a bit of disappointment, but I am confident in another year, they will be eager to eat pesto!  It always seems like the first dish or two we make with the teens, they turn their noses up at, but in time, they begin trying and enjoying what they have created.  A lot of this comes with the pride they take in growing and preparing the food themselves.  We continually encourage the teens to at least try what they have created and see what new flavors it possesses.  They become braver as time goes on, and they realize the others haven’t died from good old food out of the garden!

Two teens, a sister and brother, who joined our program last month, have a few tomato plants out and would like to show off how well they are growing:


We are beginning to talk about putting a raised bed into their home to grow more than a couple of tomato plants.  This will be a fall garden, for this season, but an all season garden for them next year.  Their grandpa is excited about the idea of an easier garden that his grandkids can maintain easily.  These two teenagers have taken into the program with excitement and energy.  They have made new friends and always look forward to our training sessions and challenges we present them with.  The oldest sibling will be joining us at the end of the month as we take our older high school teens to Berea, KY for a campus tour!  She is 17 and very excited at the potential of a college that she can afford to attend.  We are taking approximately a dozen teens that are all from low-income families and face a hard time of making college a career choice.  They cannot wait to see the campus, find out what degrees are available, and see how to enroll.  We are looking forward to an eye-opening trip!

Next week, we should have some pictures from our teen gardens that have been put in.  The teens spoke Friday of how their corn is almost 2 foot high!  How carrots are coming in, beds are covered in green, family members have been helping, and vegetables are beginning to grow!  We are in hopes to share some of these pictures and maybe, their first harvests!