Appalachian Sustainable Development
Grow Your Own Program
August 1, 2015

Greetings from Abingdon, VA. Deni here, reporting in on an incredible month.
First, let me begin by Thanking Candace for a wonderful visit. Candace was a trooper, jumping in to assist with 20 young children as we harvested produce from the Boys and Girls Club in Bristol VA and cooked zucchini muffins with visiting chef, Jassen Campbell. Most of the kids had never eaten zucchini before; and of those who did, few knew about Zucchini Muffins. They were a hit! The kids gobbled them up and asked for seconds.
We followed up our exhausting morning with a tour of several participants’ gardens, ending with a tour of our own garden at the Blue Door and a home cooked meal. It was hard to see Candace leave the next morning, and my only regret is that we didn’t gather all the Grow Appalachia program coordinators from the region for a big pot luck… Next time, I’ll make sure to plan that event.

Second, I want to welcome Michelle Morgan to our team. Michelle is recently from the Knoxville, TN region and moved to Bristol, VA in January. Her husband is the new wrestling coach for King University in Bristol, and Michelle was Googling around for interesting non-profit organizations in the area and came across ASD. She showed up at the EFIA garden one afternoon to see what the GYO program was all about and two weeks later became our new Garden Assistant. We welcome her to the team and to the Grow Appalachia family.

Michelle is pictured here, moving a gigantic pile of weeds and debris from the garden in preparation for a fall crop of carrot. Earlier in the morning she was found harvesting onions, which we dried on some fencing scraps in our shed. We look forward to giving these to the food pantry after they have some time to cure.

Third; on the other side of the garden, Justin was hard at work changing old bean rows into kale planting beds. The fall rotation has begun! And let me just take a minute to Thank Justin, who is a rising Junior at Abingdon High School. Justin has been a volunteer of mine for a few years now, but never in the garden. This summer, his mom asked if “I could find something for Justin to do”. I gladly said “sure”, and Justin has been a dedicated volunteer almost every Tuesday afternoon and Thurday morning all summer. He’ll gladly pull weeds, drive posts, plant, water, pick bugs… (he picked a lot of potato beetles this summer) harvest, wash produce, weigh it and give it to the food pantry. He’s learned a lot this summer about growing food and we’re grateful for his volunteerism. This past week, Justin helped transform the bean patch into a kale patch….