Rhonda West reporting from Scott County.

It is so heartwarming to think about the joy that is shared in the garden.

My parents are originally from Scott County, TN.  They got married at an early age and my dad farmed and gardened.  After my mother graduated from high school, they moved north to find work.  As I look back on my childhood, I remember the corn fields in Muncie, IN.  Corn, corn, and more corn fields.

At the age of twelve me and my family moved back home to Scott County, TN.  My dad’s employment meant that he had to be away from home for very long stretches.  So we did not garden. As a young teenage girl I had different opinions about gardening.  At this time in my life I really didn’t even like to eat vegetables.

As the years passed my dad had to start working at home due to a massive heart attack.  He was very limited at first to what things he could do.  This was very difficult for him and I began to see signs of depression.

After this I had to move from the state for a while.  When I returned home I needed something to fill my time with.  Something to enjoy.  Something to give me a sense of fulfillment.  Something to share with my children, husband, and parents.  Little did I know that this would be gardening?

My parents decided that they would plant a garden that year.  My dad planted three different gardens that year.  It was good for all of us.  The time that we spent in the garden my dad’s depression seemed to go away.  I enjoyed spending time in the garden that year.  The garden spot was so peaceful and relaxing.  A few years passed and my dad’s health would not allow him to garden the way he had been gardening.

That was the year that I decided to plant a garden.  My dad could still be involved but not have to take on the responsibility on his own. He would still feel like he was a part of it. Without having to do all of the work. This worked!

There is no place quit like the garden.  I am very thankful for the Grow Appalachia program.  I realized tonight after the meeting that I was very blessed to have other participants who were willing to share their knowledge about gardening with me.

I have five daughters who will benefit from this program and the knowledge that I can share with them.  My oldest daughter is 27 and lives in Clinton, TN.  She has been gardening for the past few years.  All the while my grandchildren are working and planting in the garden as well as eating the wonderful vegetables that they grew.

My grandchildren love their animals and getting in the garden!

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Here are some of the things that I was blessed to have in my garden this past year.

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This is a beautiful flowering plant that is in the mint family.  Horsemint brings butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees to the garden.

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Horsemint has a bitter taste and smells a little like thyme.  The leaves are used to make medicine. People take horsemint for digestive problems.

Thank you, Grow Appalachia!  I am looking forward to another great year.