Good afternoon, this is Sister Ann Marie Quinn writing from St. Vincent Mission in David, Kentucky!
One never knows what a difference our words and/or actions might make in another’s life. Through my dealings with various people, I try to make a mental note of their interests and needs. Then as time passes I make a point to consciously lift them up in both thought and prayer. Often reconnecting with them through email, a phone call, or in person (unfortunately my Mom’s gift of sending people a handwritten note did not rub off on me).
Grow Appalachia is such a wonderful network of people! Often newsletters, blogs, etc., that I receive pertain to a specific need that someone has just shared. It is amazing how often this happens! A couple of months ago I received information about potential grant opportunities for small scale farmers and food producers. I immediately forwarded it to a few of our GA participants who might benefit.
One of our growers followed through with an application process and received a very affirmative call from the granting foundation. He was so excited! His dream, or part of it, was to build a root cellar to store food for his family, neighbors, and wider community. From his stored surplus, he would then network and share food with those in need. In retirement this has become one of his missions.
This is what he wrote following his conversations with the grantees: I’ve wanted to talk to you about the grant. We got the money and have started construction. We have the dirt moved and are waiting for the contractor to get to us. I don’t know how to thank you for telling me about this grant. The root cellar will not only serve our family, it will also help the neighborhood. I help food banks in the area and get their surplus food and give it to families that are in need. With this root cellar I can store food like potatoes and give it as needed. Thank you so much–we will be talking later about all of this. Goodnight..
So as you can see, once the money was received “no grass grew under his feet”, he went into building mode. On July 31st I received an email that read, SISTER ANN, YOU PLANTED A SEED AND THIS IS WHAT GREW——- Shortly after the root cellar was built this message came. Sister Ann, this is what I was telling you about. This is my first load of food that I will deliver to people in my community…15 hundred pounds of potatoes and assorted other items. The grant and the root cellar are making it possible to store this food longer so it can be put to the best use.
This same person planted extensively this season to share fresh produce with others. Unfortunately, flooding was very bad in our area. What follows are some of his emails (usually written in the evening after a hard day of work).
Due to the rain, this is my worst garden ever,,,,,,,,,
My main garden is 80×80=6400 sq. feet. I have two other gardens, but water is standing in all of them. If it gets dry this week I might still have something to harvest–I hope so…
My tomatoes in the raised beds are the only ones that produced–60 plants in the main garden produced nothing–ZERO. One of my corn fields looks good, but has no ears of corn on them. Yes, I am changing my gardens for next year and I plan to get revenge. I plan to tile my two best gardens so I can dry them quicker in wet weather. When the going gets tough—Try harder—-
Appalachians are survivors! They are hard workers with strong family ties, and the community is family. I am inspired by such resilience and tenacity. Daily I pray that these elders can pass on these rich life lessons. For then, and only then, will Appalachia grow.
Live life to the full and spread the love!
P.S. The inspiration for this title came from my brother Jim who lives by example.