Happy Mothers’ Day from Yvonne Scott in ‘naturally gorgeous’ Wolfe County! One of the great things about Grow Appalachia for me is not only connecting on an individual basis with our families but connecting our families to one another. I am holding tight to my personal goal of mentoring each individual to a primary skill they can share with others in our group and also to the community at large. This past week, we had the opportunity to see how this can really work with amazing results.
On a recent visit to one of our families, I was struck by several things. First, the great pleasure that Eula had for things already growing in her yard…her lilacs, the new blueberries in pots, the honeysuckle getting ready to bloom. Second, she was eager to use the field down below her home that had been offered by a neighbor. It’s a large site next her road but down a steep hill. And third, a very flat, very barren back yard. Hmmm……
I ventured down the hill to get a close up of the plowed site which is not flat but sloped and much of the ground was compacted due to the recent logging which had opened this site up for gardening. It was also narrow, in a strip between the tree covered drainage area and a tree-lined road. I wasn’t sure what amount of sunlight she would get. But more worrisome was the trek down the hill from the house and the lack of access to water. As I looked up to her house and thought about that barren back yard, the light bulb went off: raised beds!
And so the project unfolded. A close friend from North Carolina had shared with me how he builds his raised beds with reinforced masonry siding. They last longer than untreated lumber, are much cheaper than regular dimensional lumber and lightweight. My friend volunteered (well, I volunteered him!) to come up and help create a couple for Eula. Another GA participant, Billy, who had selected to learn about raised beds was excited and willing to help my friend, Joseph, on a very hot and sunny afternoon. They made a great team. (I helped a bit on the second bed!)
Masonry (cement board) siding is 8″ X 12 feet per board. It required 10 pieces of board, some scrap 2X6’s, a box of 1 inch screws and some hand tools to complete. The masonry board is quite easy to cut using a box cutter. The pieces were cut in half then reinforced by screwing onto the 2×6 pieces. Leveling the box was a bit harder than it seems but I think the finished boxes will be a very productive 72 square feet….once we get the soil in them and a few reinforcing stakes along the outsides.
I’m also happier that Eula has access to growing space behind her house where she can water, weed, and harvest the produce easily. She is using part of the large field for corn and green beans and hopefully we’ll have enough rain to keep them watered. This was also a great opportunity to introduce the other GA families there are many ways to grow food and even if you have a plot of ground, it may not be the best location for your garden. Can’t wait to see the tomatoes and peppers she plans to grow in her new beds.