Howdy Grow Appalachians! Holly from HQ, writing with open windows in the office! Yep, it’s that time of year…finally! After spending last weekend in Chicago, this is a much welcomed reprieve to the snow and bitter cold we experienced.

Earlier this week on the 13th, we, alongside Berea College, played host to approximately 100 NRCS agents and employees, as part of their once-yearly Cultural Diversity Day. For those of you who may not know, the NRCS is a division of the USDA, and it employs agents in every state and county that provide technical and financial assistance to producers and farmers. Every state has a main office (ours is in Lexington), and many NRCS agents serve multiple counties. Grow Appalachia has partnered extensively with the NRCS essentially since our conception, most notoriously through our high tunnel enterprise, which I’ll cover a little bit later. Our Conservation Innovation Grant is administered through the NRCS, and many of our high tunnel recipients have received funding through the NRCS to pay for their tunnels. For more information about NRCS, you can check out their website. You can also view individual state NRCS websites at this link. 

Mark and Chris, at the last minute, gave a “Grow Appalachia spiel” about the program and our high tunnels, and Martina and Alix, the semi-official SFSP dynamic duo, gave a short presentation on the summer feeding program, set to kick off in just about six weeks! After the end of the overall day, which included a presentation from our own Wayne Riley, rotating booth presentations, a very lively performance from the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble, and some door prize giveaways, a small group took a tour of the college greenhouses. A few of the agents were Berea graduates, which is always a treat for me, because I really enjoy hearing about past Berea students and how times were back then. Barely 100 years ago, the college greenhouse property was home to the dairy cow operation! You could not have asked for a more perfect day, weather-wise, either! I also think a few of the folks were taken to the greenhouse’s high tunnels- all of them full of beautiful greens! The group was also taken to the compost pile, in all of its different stages of breakdown. I think there may have been a joke at turning the compost space into a “vulture sanctuary” of some sort. There is some great looking compost in the works, though!

The agents present were a fun group! During one of the rotating booth sessions, there was a Jeopardy! game set up, and it was all I could do to not jump into it and play along! Everyone was very friendly, polite, and appreciative of myself and a few others leading them to where they needed to go. I believe The Boys thought it went well…you’d have to ask them! No, I’m kidding- no complaints on all fronts!

Finally, and y’all knew it was coming, high tunnels! If you’re not familiar with Grow Appalachia, one of the components of our program is that we manufacture and sell high tunnels! High tunnels are a season extension tool that enable farmers and producers to grow vegetables on a year-round basis. We’ve developed and have for sale two “homestead” designs: a Quonset design with a curved roof measuring at 12 foot long x 40 foot wide x 7 foot high; and a Gothic design with a peaked roof measuring at 15 foot wide x 48 foot long x 9 foot high. The gothic design is currently our most popular. These designs can be completely customized to any length in 4-foot increments. These tunnels are adaptable to virtually any ground, growing, and production conditions- you can think big or small! Mark and Chris will deliver and install them within 100 road miles of Berea. We’re very proud of these designs and, if you’re interested, hope you will consider purchasing one (or a few!) from us! You can contact Chris and Mark directly through our website, and they will get back to you soon afterwards!

For more about Grow Appalachia’s high tunnels, head over to our website, and until next time, go outside! No, seriously. Do it. You won’t regret it!

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2 of our gothics