“A beginning is the time for taking delicate care that the balances are correct.” – Dune

This is a quote from a favorite book of mine, one that ponders the myth behind the ecological paradise dreamed by us all.

So we should take care to place ourselves in the correct time, March 11, 2016. Furthermore, we should take special care to place ourselves in the correct place; Parchment Valley Baptist Center, Ripley, WV.

Luna, our moon, is sympathetic to seedlings on Earth at this time, so we are now germinating seeds with the cooperation of the local Future Farmers of America chapter out of Ripley High School. We are working with a Lacy Sims and John Kessel, both ag. teachers at the school. The Jackson County Master Gardeners are being invited as guest greenhouse staff in order to assist in the nurturing of these plants. This is good for them too because doing so can be a part of their volunteer service to the community.

Our J.C.M.G. sponsor, John David Johnson of WVU Extension, has agreed to turn our soil at the Parchment Valley site and aid in our project development as “in – kind” services. The site has been prepared and brush hogged and the soil tested already, so I am now at task planning a workshop to accompany the site preparation with our project participants.

Our Veterans to Ag. apprenticeship model was accepted by the Department of Labor, and so, we can now offer an college credit to participants on behalf of Cornell’s on-line curriculum! During participation in this program, a veteran may use his or her GI bill to attain credits hours alongside a robust curriculum that we are offering to our grow Appalachia participants.

Some other recent news was received about the on-site kitchen at Parchment Valley Baptist Center! It has been declared “certified” this past week and we can now create value added products. Additionally, I have a veteran willing to contribute blueberries & blackberries that he cultivates in order to participate in a pilot for our value added program. We will be aiding him in the creation of the jam and subsequent marketing and sale of his value added product. This will give us a template and workshop opportunity to share with other participants as a model.

Regarding value-added though, an ally was found this past week in the man known as Jared Dean with the Department of Ag! He has offered us some kale seed that can be grown & sold into a market local to the area; one that leads to another value added product in the form of kale chips!

Additionally Jared has agreed to partner with the Veterans to Ag and Sherri Epling of Appalachian Regional Council Head-start to design a schematic for sample “Farm – 2 – school” sites at each of their 3 locations within Jackson & Roane counties. The territory of this organization lies within 11 counties total. Mr. Dean has made mention that there are perhaps some partnerships that could be made to increase the feasibility of this project reaching each of these sites, respectively.

Kathy Flashman, President of Roane County Master Gardeners, a local food hub, has agreed to help by offering community volunteer support at the Spencer, WV Appalachian Headstart site. I have a meeting with Sherri Epling, Jared Dean & Kathy Flashman March 28th to discuss the development of this site, in particular. These endeavors will also include a nutritional workshops for the children and site preparation workshops with the adult & site volunteers. It should be mentioned though, that these sites are not intended to generate revenue; however, the produce from these plots will have value as it will become a part of the living menu provided to the children of each site. This opportunity will be a true feasting for the mind, body, and spirit of our future generations here in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

So it has been a busy two weeks and paradise can, at times, seem remote; even if the balances are correct. Though maybe we can squint in just the right kind of light to see ‘In A Gadda Da Vida’ but time will tell.

I’ll catch you on the flip – side.