Yvonne Scott – Program Coordinator:
This past Thursday night, Wolfe County Extension in Campton, Kentucky, hosted a Rain Barrel workshop with participants from the community and our Grow Appalachia program. We have a lot of enthusiastic folks in our Grow Appalachia program with nine of eleven families participating. One of our group was ill that night and another is already using rain barrels, so all those who joined in on March 19th were new to using rain water for their gardens.
Brad Lee and Roger Rhodes from the University of Kentucky spent the afternoon prepping the barrels contributed by Wolfe County. Daniel Wilson, Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent for our Extension Service (and my supervisor for AmericorpsVISTA) and I found the dry and cozy interior of our new greenhouse the perfect place to give a final “rinse and dry” to these blue beauties before they made their way inside.
The team from UK came fully prepared with all the parts and information needed for our folks to learn how to set up, put together and maintain their rain barrel. And much like getting a new puppy, there were numerous questions about the care and feeding of the barrel once it’s installed like how long to keep the water in the barrel when it’s full (5-7 days in rainy weather was our consensus) or why we should select darker or colored barrels over clear (to inhibit the growth of algae that clogs the outlet.)
There were so many excited faces at the meeting as people swung their barrels out the doors. For some who have no guttering right now, the barrel has given them new enthusiasm for putting some up or creating a spot at their site where they can add the barrel and put up a shed perhaps that will provide the roof and downspout to fill ‘er up.
For us in this new Grow Appalachia site, we feel a big push to bring to our families as much skill-building as possible. Not all of it can be used right away, but from the comments we received, this new sense of possibility, that they can learn or garden in new and better ways, is empowering. And contagious!
We have a lot of children in our program, so we have initiated a separate activity space for them with Joy Rose, CYFAR Program Assistant at the Extension. While the parents and older siblings were putting screens on PVC and learning about internal overflow, their young ones were happy with butterfly creations, rolling on gym mats and hearing about “The Hungry Caterpillar.” Being able to offer this quality of child care makes a big difference to our parents so they can relax and feel comfortable while attending our classes so BIG THANK YOU, Joy!
As we get to know our families better, it’s so much fun to imagine how things can be different for them. The year is revving up, and while the weather is better, I’m out to collect soil samples and do some initial site visits and get ready for the seed order and berry plants coming in early next month. Woohoo! Who isn’t excited about Appalachian Spring?