Emily Barrineau, AmeriCorps Member, High Rocks, Hillsboro, WV– The 2016 Grow Appalachia season has begun at High Rocks and I am excited what this year has to offer. I started serving with Grow Appalachia at the end of the season. Now that I am getting the hang of the position and my new environment, I am eager to get a fresh start to the program and meet more people from the community.
We had our first garden planning meeting at the Middle School in Marlinton before Storm Jonas hit Pocahontas County. Marlyn and I made potato soup and garlic bread with potatoes and garlic grown in the High Rocks garden. It was great to see new faces and some old ones too! It was great to listen to everyone’s plans for their garden and how excited they are to get out in the garden!
From last year’s meeting there was a lot of feedback that there was too much math involved in the planning part of the meeting. To make the workshop more visual and hands on, we tried a different way to show the gardeners how things fit into the amount of space in their garden. We made rectangle blocks that represented the most common vegetables people grew. The pieces were one inch wide, representing a three foot wide garden bed with a one foot wide path next to it. Every inch equaled 4 feet, so to make their gardens to scale they needed to divide the length and width of their beds by four. Each block was for the recommended amount to grow for one person, according to the University of Kentucky chart. For example, if there were four people in a household that wanted to eat cucumbers they would put four cucumber pieces in their garden outline. The pieces had different sections to them for succession planting and growing for preservation. The months that they would need to plant the certain crops are symbolized by different colors. If someone did not want to preserve a certain type of produce or only wanted to have a crop a few times in the growing season they could cut those parts off of the piece. Sometimes it is hard to see how much room a certain crop is going to take up and how much of that crop you actually have to grow for one person. Having the pieces made it easier for people to visualize how much space that it would take and how much they would need to grow for each person.
We are also putting together our seed orders for our participants. It is great to see all the kinds of crops that people want to grow this year. We made our plan for the High Rocks garden and I am thrilled to help West Virginian youth have access to healthy food at the summer camps and throughout the year at different programing events. I am ready for the seeds to come in so that I can help start some seedlings in the greenhouse. Starting these seedlings means that we are getting closer to spring, warmer weather, and more time spent out in the garden.