Spring Greetings from St. Vincent Mission



Greetings from St. Vincent Mission in the eastern Kentucky community of David in Floyd County.  As of this writing, we are less than 24 hours away from Spring.  We’ve had a mild winter, and we thought spring had officially sprung in February, but Mother Nature quickly reminded us that Old Man Winter can still rear its ugly head for those of us who aspire to get an early start on the growing season.

Since my last post, we have had our second Gardner’s Meeting.  It was a great turnout, where we enjoyed an Irish Stew and beautifully crafted salad from 4-Pedal Farm in Banner, which utilizes a high tunnel growing technique to elongate their growing season.  Chris Steele, a former participant of the Grow Appalachia program and coordinator of the Floyd County Farmer’s Market, was the guest speaker.  She talked about her farm (she grows fruits and vegetables, produces farm-fresh eggs, bakes bread and has a small shitake mushroom operation).  Steele talked about the opportunities for growers to participate in the market and shared her positive experience in the Grow Appalachia program.

The meeting was held on the Prestonsburg campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College.  Students from the college’s human services program assisted in the coordination of the meeting as part of their service learning project.

We are starting to receive soil tests back from our local University of Kentucky Extension Offices.  We are very thankful for this partnership and their support.  In addition to the soil samples, we have purchased one ton of fertilizer (thanks to Wayne Riley, director of Laurel County African American Heritage Center, Inc., and Maria Arnot with the Williamson, West Virginia Grow Appalachia site) to help get the soil ready for planting season.  During the meeting, I met with each participant to discuss the soil test, craft a plan for any deficiencies, set up scheduling for tilling, and to help with any seed distribution.  Each participant also received a voucher for the Mountain Comprehensive Care Center Greenhouse in Floyd County.  This greenhouse provides a great resource to the region, while supporting the efforts of the organization’s client base who operate the greenhouse.

Our participants range from small-scale gardeners (a single raised bed) to farmers who seek to develop up to an acre of land.  It’s an exciting time in gardening, farming and local foods in the Big Sandy region.  It was evident by the fact that we had more participants in the second meeting as we did the first.  Those participants who are older (our oldest participant is 90) are reconnecting with the gardening and farming that supplied food for their family as children.  Younger parents are gardening to provide better foods for their family, and some are simply learning the basics of how to grow their own food.

Every seed and every plant signals a change in the philosophy of food in our region.  We are ready to till, plant and grow a brighter future for the families we serve.

Lettuce Give Peas a Chance.