Happy Remembrance Day everyone! If you have the opportunity today to thank a veteran, please do so.
It’s been tradition of Grow Appalachia, every year on Veterans Day, to spotlight a veteran participant or partner site that is working with veterans. Today, we’re looking at the Williamson Health and Wellness Center, located in Williamson, WV (Mingo County).
The Williamson Health and Wellness Center’s Grow Appalachia program has expanded exponentially since becoming a partner site in 2013. In that time, the community garden, aptly named the Ramella Park Community Garden of Eatin’, became suitable for interested individuals that were elderly, disabled, or did not have suitable land for gardening. The Williamson Farmers Market and Mobile Market were instituted short after and have become enormous catalysts for the local food movement in the community.The following year, more than 30 raised beds were constructed, allowing for not only additional food production space, but planting native plants and flowers that supported pollinators. Lastly, three high tunnels completed the community garden’s infrastructure that makes up the garden today. It’s the high tunnels that are creating the most momentum in the program, and that’s where the veteran participants come in.
The high tunnels were constructed in 2015, and since then, the tunnels have been managed by veterans; they also partner with Growing Warriors, a nonprofit that provides resources to and trains veterans and their families in food production. In Williamson, they provide stipends and equipment to the veterans, and they are the first site in West Virginia! One veteran grower in particular stood out as the breadwinner of tomatoes: His produced all summer long and were beautiful and fast-selling at market (He also sold 4 figures worth of produce at the Williamson Farmers Market this year!). Because of his success in vegetable production he has also become a leader for the program, teaching workshops and becoming a Master Gardener through the Mingo County program (Several other veterans also went through the Mingo County Master Gardener program). Our own David Cooke, when he visited Williamson over the summer, was very impressed! Growing Warriors producers in the area have also had a very active presence at the Williamson Farmers Market this year.
We are proud to work with a site that is doing what they can to promote health, wellness, and self-reliance to the veteran community. More importantly, we are proud to have served countless veterans over the years. To all of our veterans, past and current, thank you so much for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice. The words are simply not enough.
More information about the Williamson Health and Wellness Center GA Program: