We had two weeks with three groups of college students earlier this month at ASPI. Students from Loyola, Emory, and Notre Dame chose to spend their spring break volunteering with us. These service learners spent the week working at the office, in the gardens, at the nature center, and out in the community. The ASPI staff loves service learners because these are the weeks that we have tons of motivated, young people ready to work and get stuff done!
Although we were snowed in for part of the time they were here, they were able to fix up kitchen (which will hopefully soon be a certified commercial kitchen!), help us rearrange and clean up the office, and start seeds. We now have many trays of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, herbs, and flowers that are growing in our greenhouse.
On the nicer days, we were able to get out and work in the garden which was great after winter! Now the ASPI garden and community garden have lots of lettuce, spinach, kale, beets, and carrots growing in them.
In addition, the service learners made great progress on our new veggie cart. The veggie cart will be a mobile cart that will have vegetables from our garden that are free to whomever would like them, and a donation box which will be attached so people can pay if they’re able.
It wasn’t all just work for our service learners, we took them out to dinner a couple times, they had s’mores and a campfire at the nature center/wilderness site, and they explored Berea one afternoon. For one of the meals, we took them to the Village Trough which is a relatively new restaurant in Berea that offers a ton of local and delicious food! One of our Grow Appalachia participants even works there and supplies some of the produce from his garden. During the afternoon in Berea, the service learners were able to check out the craft shops and more so they got a taste of Berea and Appalachian culture.
All of their hard work was greatly appreciated and they were a much needed jump-start in our gardens and a huge help in getting us ready for Grow Appalachia this year!