As I look out at a garden under fifteen inches of snow and an outside temperature of eight below zero, knowing that tomorrow morning it will be even colder, I think back to last summer’s broccoli, beans, tomatoes and corn rising from the freshly tilled ground. This will be my second year planting a real garden and our second year with Grow Appalachia. I wish I could say all of our gardens with St. Timothy’s were a great success, but with a cold and wet spring which delayed planting, one gardener’s heart attack and another being diagnosed with COPD things did not work as well as we hoped. And yet, there are jars of beans and okra, tomato juice, and a freezer filled with corn on the cob, zucchini and squash and okra, even as I look out at the blanketed earth its produce will cover my plate at this evening’s meal and I know I am not alone.
Last night, one of our partners sent me a note that was posted on the Episcopal Church’s, Episcopal Relief and Development site about a visit someone made to Myanmar last February. In part it read:
I had the honor of visiting a demonstration farm where about thirty students who had come from around the country were sitting in rapt attention under a shed listening to elderly men and women share their expertise in soil and crop management and animal husbandry.
Their teachers were passing along knowledge that had been lost during Myanmar’s dark years of civil and political unrest. The teachers were sharing how to rotate crops, how to use natural pesticides and fertilizers and how to breed animals.
This knowledge that had been lost was being recovered and passed along for the glory of God.
As Sue pointed out, this sounds a lot like Grow Appalachia. Many of the groups who visit St. Timothy’s from across the eastern United States come to do home repair. Many are from large cities and find themselves immersed in a different culture when they come to Appalachia. It is a joy to talk with them about our people and history and how we live. I am happy to say that we can now talk about the work GA does and the difference it makes in the lives of our people. For some, they think beans come from cans or a bag in the freezer. It is a new learning for them to know what it is like to snap beans and eat them hours after their being picked. As we expand the number of our gardens this year, more Appalachians will eat healthier and have better nutrition, and perhaps we can restore some of the respect for the land that our ancestors had when they crossed the mountains and moved west.