Greetings from St. Vincent Mission in beautiful David, KY!  We at the mission are very happy to be a part of the Grow Appalachia family again, and are genuinely looking forward to a successful growing year.  Exciting things are happening here, even in the quiet of winter.  We are ordering seeds, and gathering gardeners for the program.  Folks are starting to map out their gardens, and our community college garden is working on a new greenhouse.  Still others in our community are expanding into high tunnels, and some are growing small pocket gardens for the first time.  I always say my best gardens grow in my head in January (still weedy though) which makes the wait until spring even longer!    I have been fortunate to attend a couple of workshops, so I have good information to pass along to the beginning gardeners regarding grants, soil integrity, weather conditions, and sweat equity.  Yes, this season promises to be bountiful.  At least that’s what I’m counting on.

Speaking of gardeners, I have stumbled onto a group of young families, and there is so much energy and excitement surrounding the prospect of gardening, as well as the discovery of the farmer’s markets.  It seems that I have a great assembly of eager hands just waiting to get dirty.  These young people have started another group called “Mamas Getting Healthy” and I have tapped into that group to recruit burgeoning growers.  I have been getting so many questions about chickens, bees, goats, and mushrooms.  I’m telling you, they are ready to hit the ground running and I’m anxious to see the potential of this tremendous energy.  In my limited experience, I realize how easy it is to get excited in the winter, and how easy it is to get exhausted in the growing months.  How do I balance their excitement with the reality of the garden work?  I surely want to support their enthusiasm and not squash (see what I did there?) their dreams of growing their own and canning and preserving the fruits of their labors.

For now, we are working on mapping out their gardens.  I rely on Pinterest a lot because there is so much information there, but there is also a lot of trial and error as well.  Some of the fun, and the swelling of enthusiasm comes from Pinterest  and other social media, so I’m working on that while I enlist the help of the gardeners. I’m accustomed to teaching—I’m in a classroom regularly—so I understand the dynamic of working, learning and growing together.

In future blogs, I will be posting lots of pictures!  The gardeners all have little ones and they all want to introduce the old Appalachian gardening and canning traditions to their own.  I’m so happy to be a part of this adventure; to reintroduce the art of growing your own vegetables to young folks who reach out for it, as well as connecting  our elderly community to this group to bring together three generations over a patch of green beans.  How cool is that?


Until next month, I wish you peas, love and happiness.

Tammy Ball