Gardens, music event, and skills events

We finished Addi and Jimmy’s raised bed this week over here in Greeneville, TN.  I, Debbie Strickland, brought a trailer of dirt in, threw it off, and planted the garden bed with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, radish, lettuce, and turnips.  We are going to get some spinach and kale to add into the mix as well.  They are excited for their fall garden and the fresh vegetables they will be able to grow and harvest for their family.  Grandpa and Grandma cannot wait to get back to gardening again.  They used to have a larger garden at the home.  They are looking forward to the raised bed for ease of maintenance and care.  This summer they grew a few tomato plants and were able to can some tomatoes.  They are getting ideas for next summer and the harvest they can produce.

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Our class met Saturday and we covered many topics of interest; cover cropping, fall planting, season extension.  We cover cropped a pasture for our pigs.  We seeded the field with winter rye, and will come through and add some alfalfa as well.  The two types of cover crops will help give nutrients to the ground, and feed our pigs through the winter.  We discussed the various types of cover crops available, their uses, and how to apply them.

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Two of our teens have larger gardens that were in the ground.  When we soil tested them in May, they needed a high amount of nitrogen.  We have added a good amount of nitrogen, using blood meal and worm castings.  Later this fall, we are going to plant their gardens with peas and oats to help build up the nitrogen for next year.  Three teens have decided to do fall and winter crops.  Two of them we have planted already for the fall, and will begin planting the third garden.  On all three, we discussed how to extend the season by adding some hoops, plastic, and row cover.  We will be working on this in the next couple of months so these families can grow throughout the winter.  A couple of other teens are thinking about adding some cover crop to ensure their soil fertility, probably some clover.  We had four teens who were not at the meeting that will also need to decide what they want to do for the fall and winter.

With fall and winter approaching, we are far from done with all our excitement.  Come fall we co-sponsor a music event that showcases local produce.  Food vendors come and use local produce in their dishes for the audience to purchase while enjoying a free concert.  We also bring awareness of Rural Resources to our community and share with them about our programs and mission.  This year, we have grammy award winning artist Alison Brown and Josh Miller performing.  Our concert will be Saturday, September 27, 5 p.m. at Dogwood Park, 1725 Lafayette Street in Greeneville, TN.  Come and join us for evening of music and good food.

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Besides two or three more catered events showcasing local food cooked by the teens who have been sharpening their cooking skills this year, we will be having our second annual Teen Chopped Cook-Off, Saturday October 4, 2014.  Teens who have completed the cooking level of the program will be placed in teams of 3 to 4.  They were told there will be hamburger and ground sausage to cook, but no other clues.  They must prepared a plated dish with a vegetable side and starch.  On the day of the event, the teens will have 1.5 hours to prepare this meal for the judges, and extra for the audience to sample.  They will be given a basket with their meat and hidden in the basket will be 1-2 secret ingredients.  The teens will be judged on presentation, taste, teamwork skills, use of secret ingredients. and the use of fresh local produce.  Last year our first cook-off was a great success.  The teams worked wonderful together and the food was amazing!  The teens must think on the spot and prepare a meal without help from a chef.  Their skills they have learned are truly put to the test.  We are expecting another wonderful year of great food, skills, and some amazing teamwork.  If you are  interested in coming to watch and taste the amazing food, please join us from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at First Christian Church, 1130 Temple Street, Greeneville, TN.

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About the Author:

I am from a farming community in Indiana where my family farmed over 200 acres. As a teen, my family moved to Florida where I became heavily involved in 4-H and developed a love for service and passing knowledge onto others. I graduated and began working at the local girls club while attending college for a Business/Administration degree. I realized that teaching youth was my passion and stayed at the girls club for 12 years before moving to East Tennessee. In East Tennessee I was able to reconnect with my farming roots and began a home garden. In growing, I tapped further into my roots and began canning and freezing food for my family. Really enjoying putting to use all the long hours working on the farm in my youth and realizing how important that was for me to learn, I wanted to get back into teaching youth again! Skimming help wanted adds, led me to Rural Resources who was looking for a coordinator to run their Farm and Food Teen Training Program. All my loves in one - youth at-risk, farming, gardening, cooking, and business planning! What a wonderful life to share my passions with others, play on the farm, enjoy local home cooked food, and advance these youth to a better future! Here I have been for 6 beautiful, happy, and productive years!

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