Hello fellow blog readers! I’m Alix Burke, a recent Berea College graduate and the newest AmeriCorps VISTA member serving at the Grow Appalachia Headquarters in Berea.

Here's me, graduating from Berea College

Here’s me, graduating from Berea College


Friday was the end of my first week as a VISTA and what a great way to end the week—touring the Grow Appalachia facilities and gardens nearby!

As I was led through a Grow Appalachia garden site, I was reminded of summers in the garden with my Papaw (my grandfather, for those unfamiliar with the term). My favorite place to be as a kid was by my Papaw’s side, in the garden, in between rows of beans wound tightly round cornstalks, twirling cucumbers off their vines, picking greens, pulling weeds, and planting seeds. At the end of the day, we’d walk back to the house, hauling buckets of what we’d picked. I’d help my Mamaw (grandmother) make supper out of what we’d brought back with us and we’d have a table full of home-grown, handpicked food.

My Papaw's garden in the rain

My Papaw’s garden in the rain, 2008

I’m honored to have grown up in the Appalachian mountains of Pike County, Kentucky. My parents and grandparents lived in the hills and made sure I and my siblings had the opportunity to as well. I got to experience splashing through mud puddles, bathing in rainwater, and feeling moss under my feet at a very young age. I had a real connection with the land and the Earth. My family was poor, but I was lucky to live where I did and to have the opportunity to garden and eat fresh food whenever I wanted. Many other low-income Appalachians and Kentuckians are not as lucky.

Side view of my grandparents' home

Side view of my grandparents’ home

The road leading to my grandparents' house

The road leading to my grandparents’ house

That’s what makes my AmeriCorps VISTA assignment so exciting. I’m working with Grow Appalachia and the Kentucky Association of Food Banks to expand and improve the quality and scope of the Summer Food Service Program in Kentucky. By combining the resources of both organizations, I’ll be building the capacity for a collaboration intended to bring healthy, locally grown produce to low-income Kentuckians and their children. What an incredible way to share the experiences of my own childhood with the next generation of young Kentuckians!

I’m looking forward to the upcoming year and to meeting as many Grow Appalachians as possible. If you want to talk about the Summer Food Service Program, share resources, or just say hello, feel free to call or email me at 606-213-0451 and burken@berea.edu.