This one is for Candace. Hi all, Sister Kathy here.

The other evening at the All Hands Gathering at Berea, after a delicious supper and wonderful conversations in the dining hall, Valerie Horn and I headed upstairs to retrieve our “stuff” and head over to the Boone Tavern to call it a night. The Grow Appalachia “Young People” were dutifully waiting for the rest of the participants to clear out so they could close up. I overheard Candace Mullins mention there was a board game night planned that evening.

I’m not sure how it happened but the next thing I knew I was pontificating on how youth was wasted on the young and that staying up all night was the fault of 24 hour television. “We need to return to the test pattern.” I quipped. The YP’s gave me that look that they give odd OP’s so I went on to explain.

When I was growing up, TV went off at night somewhere around midnight. I told them there was usually a picture of the American Flag waving while the Star Spangled Banner played followed by another picture, usually of a dove flying, and a short prayer. And then the test pattern with a very annoying noise and then the screen filled with snow. “That’s what usually woke you up so you could go to bed”.

By now some of you are smiling and remembering and most of you are thinking “what does this have to do with Grow Appalachia?” Nothing and everything.

You see I believe that sharing that piece of my history with Candace, Holly and Jeffery was what makes Grow Appalachia so powerful. It wasn’t the topic. It was the people. As Michael Tierney said so eloquently in his latest post from Big Ugly, “Berea College’s vision, that “God has made of one blood all the peoples of the earth” perfectly describes the eclectic tribe that is Grow Appalachia—young and old (probably about a 50 year span among those present), multi-racial and interfaith, and a breadth of educational and economic backgrounds that are rare to have in the same room.”

That has been my experience with Grow Appalachia over the last three years. The wisdom is not top down. It is circular and everyone has a piece of it; not in spite of their age, their income bracket or their education but because of it. I believe that growing food levels the playing field.

David Cooke likes to call Grow Appalachia “science assisted craft agriculture”–taking the older proven methods of organic gardening and combining them with new proven methods of practice. For instance, taking the old way of hoeing corn instead of spraying it with broad-leaf herbicide and using a Rogue scuffle hoe (my personal favorite) as a more efficient tool. That is only one example of intergenerational wisdom.

So as you begin the sixth year of Grow Appalachia I would ask two things. First, find ways to let your Young, Old and even Middle People share their generational wisdom. And second, turn off the TV and get a good night’s sleep.


OP Seward and his tomatoes-on tobacco sticks. Some OP’s just won’t change.

GA pix 009

YP Jennifer, a volunteer at St. Vincent Mission all smiles cleaning out the raised beds.


Emily teaching MP’s how to can beans.

The picture of the test pattern is from my youth in St Petersburg Florida where WSUN had the cowboy westerns all Saturday afternoon. yet another OP memory.  Peace.