Each cycle, one Cadet is appointed as the Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy garden manager. This Cadet is responsible for care and recording of garden activities. ACA Journalism Club member Cadet Donovan Puckett had an opportunity to interview Class 005’s garden manager, Cadet Chance Paver. Following is that interview:

This week I had a chance to sit down with the garden manager at the Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy in Harlan County and ask him a few questions. Cadet Chance Paver has been entrusted by the director, Mr. Coldiron, to take care of the delicate garden since week 3 of cycle 005.

Puckett: “So how old are you?”

Paver: “I turned seventeen September 25th.”

Puckett: “Have you had any past experiences gardening before you came here at the ACA?”

Paver: “Yes, I helped my grandpa in his garden over the years.”

Puckett: “Do you enjoy gardening?”

Paver: “Oh yes.”

Puckett: “Why do you think Mr. Coldiron asked you to do this job?”

Paver: “Well, it’s probably because my past experiences with farming and gardening on my family’s 126 acre farm. We grow a big garden every year right beside my house.”

Puckett: “What kind of stuff did you grow there?”

Paver: “The crops that we grew in the garden at my house was tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, and oh boy! The sweetest watermelon you ever tasted! And much more.”

Puckett: “What times do you attend to the garden here at the academy?”

Paver: “After breakfast chow, or after morning formation.”

Puckett: “What kind of things do you do in the garden?”

Paver: “Generally, I cover the garden with hoop houses, which is rings that wrap around the top of the beds and put a tarp over the rings to protect the crops from six percent of the first frost.”

Puckett: “What are you growing in the garden right now?”

Paver: “Right now we are growing banana peppers, mustard greens, carrots, and cabbage.”

Puckett: “Does anyone one else help you with the garden?”

Paver: “I have like two or three other trustworthy cadets help me at the most. They do an excellent work in assisting me.”

Puckett: “I understand that there is a log you must fill out every day? What kind of stuff are you required to fill out?”

Paver: “When I fill it out, I have to write down the date, time, what the temperature is at the moment, along with my signature.”

Puckett: “How do you feel when you’re in the garden?”

Paver: “When I go to the garden, I feel relaxed. I feel like I’m ready for anything that’s threw at me for the rest of the day.”

Puckett: “Is the garden doing well so far?”

Paver: “Oh yeah. The garden here at the ACA is doing remarkably well. Better than the one back home.”

Puckett: “Have you learned anything new here?”

Paver: “I’ve learned numerous things. I’ve learned how to build hoop houses, how to maintain a garden properly, and how much fertilizer to put on a bed. See, that’s why the one back home wasn’t doing any good. Because there I just dumped it on there.”

All the staff at the ACA says that Cadet Paver does a marvelous job in the garden. He shows an astonishing interest in it all. You can see the glimmer in his eyes when you bring it up. You can tell that this is something he loves to do.

“When I’m in the garden, and it’s all quiet, I feel like I’m back home. I love it, ” Paver said.

Cadet Paver continues to work in the garden every day, and if there was one thing he could have in the garden it would be his grandpa there to help him.
— Cadet Donovan W. Puckett