I just concluded my fourth trip to Kentucky and wanted to say thanks to all of you who hosted me. I was able to visit Wayne in Laurel County and he fed me catfish and dang good heirloom tomatoes from his garden. His high tunnels are amazingly productive (Kroger-looking tomatoes!) and if anyone needs help leveraging resources or getting just about anything done, give Wayne a call. He can also cater your next event!

I was so inspired to see how far Jessica has come at Greenhouse17. We first talked four years ago about just maybe putting together a garden program that would be a therapeutic place of healing for residents. It has not only become that, but they just shipped thousands of units of balms, salves and soaps made with garden-fresh ingredients to the Paul Mitchell Gathering in Las Vegas! The garden is still a place of rest and healing, but they are also able to offer crucial training and skills to women who are eager to provide for their families. Anyone with a therapy component to their programming should make a point to go visit their site.

I loved seeing both Bethany House and Chad’s Hope – first year sites with beautiful gardens and tons of potential. And speaking of potential! Scott Christian Care Center is about to finish the most beautiful commercial kitchen I have ever seen. Lisa’s labor of love (and her community’s) will hopefully be a gathering place for many to learn, share and prepare food for many years to come.

I called John Paul when I was in Kentucky and he wanted me to tell you all peace, love and happiness. His original vision for this project was to provide funds to help people garden so that they could feed their families and develop the tools to sell some of what they grow. I’m so encouraged to see a farmers market being built in McCreary County and to buy and eat amazing blueberries and tomatoes sold at the Scott County Farmer’s Market. The goal of the program is to get participants to a place where you feel comfortable not only in the garden but in the marketplace as well, whatever that looks like in your community.

Other things I learned:
• Coyotes eat corn (UK Robinson Center).
• David Cooke likes mystery shows. I previously thought he only watched documentaries on corn and woodworking and greasy beans because he knows EVERYTHING about those things.
• Mark Walden knows just about every beetle and flea variety that has ever chewed a green leaf.
• You can get amazing vegetarian food at Kristina’s Kitchen in McCreary County (as a vegetarian, this was a thrill!)
• Candace Mullins will go home after a twelve-hour day on the road and can tomatoes. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is!
• Interns will eat any and all food you give them (Marcus and Jeffrey shoutout!)

Thanks so much Kentucky and Tennessee for having me! Hopefully I will get to meet more of you next time around. Oh, and keep blogging! I love to read them all.

Constance Dykhuizen lives in Austin, Texas where she is the director of John Paul DeJoria’s foundation, JP’s Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation, the main funder of our programs.