We’re doing things a bit differently this post around!

A few vital elements of sustaining our Grow Appalachia program, and anything we here at RAIL dip our toes into, are: a sense of community, being together, and plain out having a good time! So, we’d like to share with you a telling of a special day we were fortunate enough to spend with some amazing people!

Its 8:30 a.m., the sun is breaking through the crisp and cool winter air, and its business as usual at RAIL’s HQ. Volunteers from James Madison University’s Faculty and Administration Leadership Program are gearing up beside our staff to head out to do some ‘field work’. Together we load a pull behind trailer full of tillers, rakes, shovels, and more. We share a few stories – and a few laughs – then hit the open windy road.

As our convoy reaches the old coal camp community of Wyco, WV, we step out of our vehicles and converge atop a gravel dead-end road. Our first stop. Three sites are in walking distance so, like busy little worker ants, we scurry from vehicle to trailer to house one to house two to house three. Then back. Then forth. Truthfully, there doesn’t appear to be a method to our madness. Soon enough we fall in line and discover our respective working occupations for the day. Soil testers, plow pushers, seed planters, drafters: that’s who we are for the rest of the day.


Lunch Time!

For lunch we settled on the yard of a 100 year old church. Just as we were all getting to know each other over homemade pasta, sandwiches, and giant granny smith apples, a low rumble sounded off in the distance. A local man soon appeared riding a 50cc dirtbike up the overgrown road to the church. A playful site, I assure you! A man of probably 60, riding a blue motorcycle rendered invisible by the long slender legs of the fellow operating it. He stops and immediately introduces himself to the lot of us. He then, without missing a beat, educates us on the history of the coal camp and the history of the church.