What a month! I have missed posting on here every week. (Yes, I cannot believe I just said that!) I did not realize until a month went by, how much has happened and how much we all post about each month on a weekly basis. Debbie here, Appalachia Cares/AmeriCorps, at happening Rural Resources in Greene County, TN! We have been so busy this month. So yes, summer is officially here. With that, comes extra classes and activities for the teens. What this means is 4 gardening classes; 6 cooking classes; 2 canning classes; 7 business training/implementation classes; 1 container garden demonstration; 1 skewer demonstration; 3 catered meals – the soup kitchen, seasonal supper at Rural Resources’ farm, and a local foods meal for RC&D Council high tunnel workshop; and a soap making class. We also have 4 interns working in different areas of food industries this summer. One teen is working at a local coffee shop, two at our farm with the pigs and assisting in the teen program with the rabbits, and another teen at our local farmers market. With this is 55 hours of training for our at-risk teens! Yep, I noticed a couple more gray hairs, wrinkles, and lots of exciting faces at all the activities going on. On top of all this, I have just about finished helping put gardens in teen homes, we are missing it by 1. We placed 2 gardens this month. This brings us to a total of 16 garden spaces engaging 19 teens, with one more on the way. The teens have been busy attending classes and their gardens this month.
Here are some home garden pictures:
The teens are excited to see their gardens growing, picking their first labors of love, trying new things (yes, I encouraged each one to put something new in their gardens), and seeing their first pests!
The first pest picture I received! But, I think this is a swallowtail caterpillar.
The teens were very intent on hearing how to apply BT and spinosad to their gardens as I handed these out with spray bottles to manage the pests. I have the teens searching for the bugs to bring in and we can identify or to take pictures of them. Being able to identify them will help me tell them how often to treat and what treatment will be most affective. The teens have walked through the gardens with farmer Melissa and seen flea beatles, potato bugs, cabbage moths, and bean beatles. A few mentioned they had the bean beatles on their plants and have holes in the leaves. I gave a few teens diatomaceous earth to apply on these critters. It works wonderful at killing the larva. Melissa also discussed means of getting rid of the bad critters to help your garden improve. Some are having issues with deer eating their cabbage and lettuce plants. I researched that sprinkling blood meal around the garden will deter rabbits, I wonder if it will do the same thing for deer?? We are going to try it out and see.
Our garden teens, Catastrophic Kitchen-Chicken Nuggets, prepared a demonstration for the Greeneville Farmers Market on container gardening. They reused old items, a few new containers, and became creative in ideas for being able to garden in practically anything. They also took pictures of containers around the farm and used pictures for ideas off the internet. The idea was to get people thinking outside of the box when it comes to growing food. The teens had fun putting their containers together and, for some, painting their containers.
Our cooking/preservation teens – Food Commanders – received their first preservation classes this month! They had the opportunity to make strawberry jam and crushed tomatoes. Lamanda Weston, Family and Consumer Sciences Greene County UT Extension Agent, led the troop of teens into the preservation world. The teens loved the homemade strawberry jam! Very few made it home the next day for their families to try. The teens only let the jam sit one day before tearing off the jar lids and sticking fingers or crackers into the jam. They were highly impressed. One young lady is planning to make a batch and enter it in the fair this summer. The boys enjoyed mashing the strawberries, and apparently made it look like so much fun, that everyone wanted to smash and crush the tomatoes!
This group of teens, Food Commanders, have been very busy learning how to cook – reading recipes, using dry/liquid measuring cups, mixers, ovens, etc. They spend one day a week with Kitty Earl – Extension Nutrition Educator, Youth EFNEP, Greene County UT Extension, practicing cooking methods.
They have also catered a meal and demonstrated kabobs and fruit skewers this month. They catered a meal to our local soup kitchen, serving 148 meals to those in need. They also passed out kabob skewers featuring local market farmers beef, squash, zucchinni, onions, and tomatoes. Fruit skewers were also offered featuring local blackberries and giving ideas for future fruit that will be at the market in a few weeks.
Our business groups – “THE” Group and Silent Farmers have been busy making improvements to our rabbitry and swine production. “THE” Group has been busy bagging up rabbit poo and advertising it for sale to use in the gardens. This is wonderful black gold that your plants will love. Rabbit manure is excellent for the organic gardener! It will help increase the life cycle of your microogranisms, a great soil improver for poor soil. N – P – K values of rabbit manure is N- 2.4 P- 1.4 K- .60. Why not add this to your garden! We have been adding this into the teens gardens from last year to help improve the nutrient losses from last summers growing season. “THE” Group has also been busy overseeing an automatic watering system installment, installing automatic feeders, building in a door way to the rabbit barn, and breeding, breeding, breeding! They are looking to have many litters for sale at the end of the summer. The next steps will be to install fans for those hot summer days. Silent Farmers have been learning about running a business. They have been preparing a business plan for swine production. They have worked with the pigs in giving them baths for pests, rotating pigs in the grazing fields, and learning how to care for and maintain pigs. They also have prepared the majority of their business plan. They have made a budget, projecting potential income, expenses, and profit; developed a marketing strategy; identified their consumers; and decided on how big they can go. There are still kinks to iron out and more planning, but they are well on their way! They will be working with a marketing person to help design their marketing materials, and developing resumes that will show their skills and knowledge to attach with the business plan. This will also give the teens a resume for them to take with them and to continue to add their experiences on for future employment opportunities.
One of our interns on the farm has been busy building new shelters, feeding troughs, and working on a floor for our pig house.
We have had one busy summer already! Can I last till the end? Only time will tell! Until then, I am off to get ready for July activities, fair is the first part of August, teen retreat Labor Day Weekend, our big Teen Chopped Cook Off in September, and fall harvest activities. I think the better question is, will I survive the year? Keep checking back to see if I am still here!