Greetings from Abingdon, where it’s suddenly gotten hot and plants (and weeds) are starting to show signs of promised harvests to come.

We’ve concluded our spring series of workshops; 27 in all to get our Grow Your Own gardeners off and growing.  It was a whorl-wind of a spring that had Michelle and I running full throttle.  Not only did we support the garden efforts of nearly 50 garden participants but also managed 8 school and after school garden locations; many of which increased their garden size to accommodate demand for more healthy growing and eating programs.

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While tired, we are amazed at how “needed” our support has been to the children and adults in our community.

I had a chance to ask a few participants recently about how the program was going so far; if it had been helpful.  “It’s like Christmas” was a quote I heard several times from different sources.  “I’m on a fixed income, all the plants, the chemicals, even how to hold and use a hoe was new to me.” Two of our growers agreed by adding “We’ve always used Sevin dust to get rid of the bugs.  We’re excited to be learning how to grow organically.” And yet another particiant was impressed by the simplicity of soil tests “I’ve never tested my soil before, now I know why my plants weren’t growing so well, I needed lime!” But one of the most common quotes revolved around tilling support “I could never have tilled my yard if I hadn’t had your help.”

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I also had an opportunity to speak with one of our beginning farmer rancher participants who has found the program to be “tremendously helpful”.  “It’s easy to find folks who will tell you what to do, but the GYO program PROVIDED stuff to do it with; the chemicals, the tools, and a book that describes what to do and what to look for”.  This first time farmer is impressed with our demonstration garden “for example, you demonstrate by showing us how to use trellis or tie up tomatoes; things you can find on line but here you can ask questions and get them answered”.


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Many of the participants I spoke with mentioned how great it is “to not be in it alone” that the program creates a support group.  So, I guess we’re on the right track.  By offering tilling support, providing seeds and healthy transplants, gathering folks for workshops and offering them tools and chemicals to fight off disease and pests we’ve created a group of people excited and interested to Grow their Own food.

May June be kind and bring just the right amount of rain and gentle temperatures.  ~ Deni  Peterson, GYO Manager for Appalachian Sustainable Development