Hey everyone! My name is Aja (pronounced “Asia”) and I’ll be working at Grow Appalachia’s Headquarters this summer! I’m a rising senior at Berea College majoring in Agriculture and Natural Resources, with a minor in Sustainability and Environmental Studies. I worked with GA two summers ago when I interned at Greenhouse 17 in Lexington, and I’m so glad to be back with this great organization! I’ll be doing a few different things while I’m here, but my main two projects will be managing our new heirloom bean research project and coordinating the new community garden at the New Liberty Family Shelter in Richmond, KY.



The bean project is a research initiative to test different methods of growing heirloom pole beans to find what works and what doesn’t. Our goal is to determine some tried and true methods for growing pole beans organically so we can share our techniques with our partner sites. I’ll be growing out four varieties from Eastern KY and North Eastern TN and experimenting with trellising, companion plants, catch crops, and more! Once they’ve grown and been harvested, I’ll be working on being able to sell seeds here on the website and distributing seeds to sites that want them. I’ll be distributing some of our surplus seeds now too, so if you’re interested in getting some for your site, email me at croteaua@berea.edu!


The New Liberty Family Shelter is one of Grow Appalachia’s newest sites. It’s a family homeless shelter that has been operating in Richmond, KY for over 100 years! We’ll be installing 12 raised beds at the shelter to be maintained by residents, neighbors, and local organizations such as the Richmond Teen Center. Our hope is that the garden will serve as an educational tool for residents so they can take the skill of growing their own food with them when they leave the shelter, as well as a source of food for the families and for the small food bank located on the site. We’ll be working with different organizations in Madison County to install the beds and get them ready for planting, then I’ll take over as the garden manager for the growing season. If you find yourself in Richmond this summer, be sure to swing by and check it out!


I’m thrilled to be working with GA this summer, and I’ll keep everyone updated on our progress as the summer goes on!