Although the leaves are starting change colors, it doesn’t feel like fall is here yet in the High Country, as we continue to see strangely warm weather. The warm weather means that lettuce is growing abundantly again and the strawberries are happy to have a lengthy second flowering. But the collards are looking forward to a frost to finally sweeten them up.
At the Blackburn Community House, Matt, the garden coordinator, is working hard to switch out beds with fall plants and cover crops. The garden at Blackburn has already produced an astounding amount of food this season, nearing a thousand pounds, almost all of which was donated to local food banks, and perhaps most importantly, to 16 families at Green Valley Elementary with children who receive backpack lunches throughout the summer. Matt had to think creatively about how to get fresh produce to those families, since typically the backpacks are full of non-perishable items that can be picked up at any time. What he discovered worked well, was a mini-CSA box that is delivered directly to the families. The rest of the food produced in the garden goes to feed Matt, as well as his interns who also work in the garden several hours a week.
Speaking of interns! After spending some time recruiting students from
Appalachian State University, the Community of Gardens is excited to have new, excited volunteers and interns to help out in the gardens for the remainder of the fall season. Megan and Kelly will be joining Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture’s team this week, and we plan to put them straight to work at St. Luke’s community garden and with the all star volunteers that run Lettuce Learn.
Dana Holden, a dedicated member of Lettuce Learn and the garden coordinator at Valle Crucis elementary, is working with students on an apple tasting project this fall. Her after school students are learning about Appalachian culture through heirloom apples, taking walks around their school to find different apple trees, and they’ll learn how to graft next Spring! Her lessons pair well with an apple tasting and processing workshop that Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture will hold in early October, and we’re hoping to get some of the students out to that as well.
A huge highlight for Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture this month was that the Town Council of Boone approved our request for funds to purchase a second freezer for the High Country Food Hub. The Food Hub is a project of BRWIA’s that recently opened and is already being fully utilized by local farmers, gardeners, and the High Country CSA. The second freezer will give us even more storage space, which High Country growers have already demonstrated we need! Additionally, the project has now received bipartisan financial support from both the town and the county, demonstrating that food really can bring our communities together.