Hello everyone!  I cannot believe how time as flown by!  I have started to write so many different blogs, but have been tied down with celebrating, reflecting, and just moving on into 2015!  We have had so much happening here at Rural Resources in Greeneville, TN.  I don’t think we ever have a down time.  Many assumptions would be that winter is here, a time of rest, what growing or activities can happen?  Somehow in my mind this should not be the case.  We closed 2014 on some high notes – a float in our local Christmas Parade and a Celebration of teen accomplishments and activities for the year.  The teens mustered all their might to build an amazing float that was representative of the parade theme – A Celebration of Trees – but showcased what Rural Resources is all about.

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The teens worked many days on hand painting ornaments for the tree that represented who we are – veggies, fruits, animals, farm equipment, and our own Mobile Farmers Market.  The float was loaded with rabbits (live), smiling teen faces, parents, apples for throwing, and our tin cow Bella and tin Ms. Piggy.  Ms. Piggy got the best seat, riding high above the truck!  We were very excited to take 2nd place in our category.  The teens had a wonderful time using their creative skills to showcase who we are.

Two days after this big parade and all the work, we held our annual Teen Promotion Dinner.  The dinner is a time where we reflect on the work and accomplishments the teens had throughout the year.  Teens, families, community supporters, grantors, and friends were invited to join us in the celebration.  Our cooking group, Silent Farmers, prepared a wonderful orange glazed chicken with rice, stir fry vegetables, and a cabbage salad.  We always love to mention what was local in our meal, so here goes!  Chicken came from Kany Farm in Bulls Gap, TN; cabbage, carrots, and onions from Rural Resources; and honey from Summerfield Farms in Afton, TN.  The meal was delicious and the orange glazed chicken was the talk of the night!

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During the night, we honored all the teens with a certificate of completion in their level of training and promoted them on to the next level.  We were excited to share statistics on what was actually accomplished.  I always feel we never do much, until I sit down and really start tallying and remembering everything we DID do!  I was very overwhelmed, and now completely understand why I have a few more strands of gray hair and feel exhausted all the time.  Oh how I enjoy this work and the things we do.  Here are the highlights from our Grow Appalachia Garden program with Food Commanders (who are in their first year of the program):  9 home gardens went in, 471 individual hours of training were provided, the teens lead a vermi-composting workshop at the Greeneville Farmers Market, and over 4600 lbs of food was produced in these gardens and on our farm!  Now, this may not seem like a lot, but remember this is only one of 5 groups.  If you multiply the training time by 4, that should give a good average of the hours of training the teens all received in growing food, food cooking/preservation, business planning/implementation, and an internship.  This does not include all the special activities for each of these different groups, just training time.  That alone is a lot of time!!!  Did I mention for the first time in many years, I took the Christmas holiday off?  Now, I have been moving forward!

This year, we are so pleased that Our Grow Appalachia Program will encompass our entire teen program!  I have been recruiting 15 more new teens to garden with, working with our last year garden teens to support them in continuing to grow food in their garden hoops (oh yes, food is still growing!  Hopefully I will have pictures soon!), and meeting with all my old groups and moving them forward into their next level.  Lots of work underway, tons of planning, lots of prep work, and spring is how far away??!!!!!  I think I had better go and get started!  Debbie wishing you all happy days this winter and for a fun full year ahead!