I feel like the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, I am late for our date this weekend!  White rabbit Debbie here, Appalachia/AmeriCorps, from Rural Resources in Greeneville, TN, trying to find my time again!  How time flies and everything needs done at the same time.  I am working on so many projects, many that are behind from the rains in April, and now waiting on equipment to do the work.  So many gardens, I hope, will be going in this week and next, then I hope all will be done for a little bit.  While waiting on this work, the other side of Debbie, the Mad Hatter (no, I did not go mad or look like the mad hatter, but I sure felt like I did!), had other projects and meetings to attend last week.  I think last week was the week of meetings.  I met with another staff member and a couple of board members to goal set for the organization.  After 22 years in the community, we are re-evaluating our mission, goals, and activities.  We spent a bit of time reviewing a specific goal, tweaking it, making sure it is doable and measurable, and fits within our mission.  We will be working all year to develop a new strategic plan and goals for the next 5 to 10 years for our work.

I also had two meetings with our post-graduated teens who will be working as interns this summer for a local grower, at the Rural Resources farm, and a local coffee shop.  I had one teen that I had taken to interview with a local grower who has blackberries that need pickin for market this summer.  Their blackberries have been thriving over the past few years, and they are very willing to take an extra hand to help harvest, clean, and set up at markets this summer.  The teen intern will be able to further develop marketing skills, harvesting techniques and methods, learning about fruit production, and have wonderful mentors who will guide them, educate, and encourage them with their first real job.  The second meeting was taking three potential candidates to our local coffee shop and interview with the owner.  The teen intern will learn how a business handles inventory control, customer service, making fresh coffee drinks, ordering products, counting money back, and work ethics.  After these teens have been placed, we will be placing a couple of teens at the farm to help with livestock, in the gardens, and with teen programming.  Each of these teens will be paid to work and learn!  What an experience for someone not yet out of high school.  A first true job for their resumes, a resume, interview skills, communication skills, customer service, and a trade skill.  We are very excited to do this for our third summer.

My fourth big meeting for the week was at Greene County Extension Office, lining up canning and preservation classes for the teens this summer.  The teens will be working with Lamanda Weston, our Extension Agent, to learn the basics of canning and preservation, then stepping up into advanced classes.  The classes we have scheduled now are blackberry jams/jellies, crushed tomatoes, green beans, and pickles.  We are discussing fall classes and making apple butter!  I have purchased Ball Blue Books for each of the teens and a few jar lifters and lid lifters.  I have to get the canners and a few more pieces of equipment, in time for our first class in June!  I am very excited to begin preservation classes as this is truly a way to help these families feed themselves by putting up their excess from summer to sustain themselves during the winter.  Pictures and information to come!

Well, a few smaller meetings – with other staff and personal.  But my week was not over.  On Saturday, our teen group, “THE” Group, were to serve food items for our Big Spring Master Gardeners Plant Sale.  On Friday, we met at a local church and prepared:  carrot cake muffins (YUMMIE!!), pumpkin bread muffins (also YUMMIE!!), massaged kale, and black bean hummus.  The teens served coffee and muffins in the morning, with tortilla chips and hummus for snack.  Then for lunch we served a salty massaged kale wrap, black bean hummus wrap, or a specialty wrap combined with both.  The wraps were very good, but the massaged kale ended up being saltier than Friday when we made it.  We were bummed, especially me because I gave it the finger licking seal of approval.  But, when mixed with the black bean hummus, it was very very good!  The kale was grown by one of the master gardeners, the pumpkin was canned in the fall by teens from locally grown pumpkins, and the honey came from local bees.  Everyone enjoyed the food, and we actually sold out of our wrap items!  We were very excited and enjoyed visiting with all the Master Gardeners and visitors.





So onto this week of gardens, greenhouse tour, herb gardens, a school field trip to the farm, and business planning classes!  Fun, fun, FUN!!!