Maria here in Williamson. Sorry in advance for the long blog! It is so hard to decide on what to focus my blog on just once a month! Looking back on the month there is just so much that has happened that I would like to share, so I decided to try and focus on activities that we have been promoting here in Williamson that can be replicated in your own communities.
I know that I have spoke extensively about our partnership with the WV Extension Service, but this year we have worked with them more than ever as they have started expanding there work with farmers market (We still don’t have an agriculture agent in Mingo so we work with our Nutrition Specialist, Dana Wright). One thing that we have experimented with are SNAP tours, which is a cooking demo for SNAP recipients followed by a tour of the farmers market and a double bucks matching program. Also, Dana has handed out a coupon to individuals she knows that receive food stamps, and if they turn it in at the market they win a free prize (a cutting board). Dana has also been trying to host cooking demos at every market. This benefits customers and farmers as well, since we buy the produce from them for the cooking demo, and hand out recipes to encourage people to shop at the market.
All you need in order to put on cooking demonstrations at the market is a small electrical skillet and some fresh veggies from the market. I included two recipes below that show how simple it can be.
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
½ medium onion, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons shredded part-skim Mozzarella cheese
4 slices deli-sliced roast beef
2 low-fat 10 inch flour tortillas
Cook peppers and onion on medium heat in a non-stick skillet until onions tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet. Add beef to pan and cook until browned
Spray skillet with cooking spray. Add one tortilla. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons cheese. Add vegetables. Top with tortilla. Top with cooking beef
Cook on medium heat about 3 minutes. Use spatula to flip the quesadilla. Cook additional 3 minutes. Slide from skillet onto cutting board. Cut into 6 slices.
Total time: 20 minutes
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Another resource that I mentioned in one of my previous blogs was the Master Gardener program we have started in Williamson. Now that the program is completed, I have a better sense of how we actually will be leveraging this resource.
In March, I attended a session at the WV Small Farms Conference by Mira Danilovich on how to utilize and tap into the Master Gardeners in your community. Mira’s presentation was extremely informative and it made me extremely happy that we were pursuing a master gardening program in our own community.
Now that we have turned in our final exams last week, assuming that everyone passes, we will have 17 certified master gardeners in our community!
As a master gardener, it is required that you maintain 30 volunteer hours every year. Our master gardeners have been adamant about keeping up with our monthly planning monthly. This allows them to be able to work together to accomplish projects in the community and acquire their necessary volunteer hours. Projects can included beautification projects in your community, agriculture workshops, community garden projects (as long as they are not working in their own plot), volunteering at the market, and more. All of these activities align perfectly with some of the work Grow Appalachia participants work on, so I thought it would be worth mentioning again. Plus it has really helped motivate some of our gardeners, and give them a sense of belonging to be a part of such a group.