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Viola Barrett has been with the program since the beginning 4 years ago. Now she shares her responsibilities with her daughter.


The Owsley County Grow Appalachia program offers a huge variety of benefits/programs to our community and school. We have done everything from make and sell molasses, operate a greenhouse, grow a variety of fruits and vegetables at our school garden to offer in our cafeteria lunches, as well as hosting the farmers market each week. However, one of our greatest and most prized programs that we offer is none other than our community garden.

The community garden program is pretty self-explanatory. Many citizens in our community love to garden, but may not have the land, tools, plants, etc. that are required to make a successful garden. These are the citizens that participate in our community garden program. The program supplies everything the workers need. Each participant will get one plot of the garden. They get to decide what plants they want to grow, and our greenhouse supplies them. Their plot is tilled up and ready for plants when the community gardener arrives. All plants and/or veggies that the gardener harvests are theirs to keep and enjoy. The best part about the community garden is everything is absolutely free! We also offer natural organic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer to keep the plants at their healthiest. Only organic sprays, etc. are permitted.

Of course there are some requirements for the free garden. The community gardener must upkeep the garden by working several hours throughout the week so that the plot and surrounding plots can grow in a healthy environment. The participant must also attend a minimum of 5 gardening training sessions that are offered by the Owsley County Cooperative Extension Service and/or Owsley County High School Agriculture Department. It is suggested that the gardener pre-plan their garden project and keep track of what type and how much produce they harvest. Last but not least, the gardener will clean up their plot after the end of the harvest so that it may be ready for the next season!

I spoke with community gardener, Mary Bogan, and she had only great things to say about the program and its benefits. Bogan states that she would not be able to grow her own garden, something that she loves to do, without the community garden program, due to lack of space and funds. Mary says that she harvests such an abundance of produce she is not only able to supply fruits and veggies to her household, but to all of her friends as well.  This shows that the community garden program not only supports local gardeners, but the community as a whole! We are so proud of our community garden/ gardeners and are grateful for the opportunity to bring local gardeners together all the while giving back to our amazing community!

Written and submitted by:

Joslyn Cope

Intern University of Kentucky Appalachian Center