But what do May flowers bring? Ants, if they’re peonies! There’s an old tale I recently heard that ants are necessary for peonies to bloom. They eat the nectar off the bud, and that allows the bud to open up. Of course I had to look into this to see how accurate it was. We have an abundance of peonies blooming by the stream running through campus, and the peonies have an abundance of ants on their buds! It turns out, ants aren’t necessary for peonies to bloom. They do however keep away other harmful insects that could prevent the peonies from blooming, and they gain the benefit of eating the nectar produced by the bud!


Blooming flowers aside, it was a bit of a busy month trying to get all the gardens plowed around the rain! There was A LOT of rain to work around, but Bobby is mostly finished, our participants got an abundance of seed and plants from us and most of them should be ready to go for the summer. We get most of our plant starts through the local FFA chapter. We purchase the seed and give it to them to grow for us. It’s a win win situation. They get the experience and the predetermined sales, we get to choose exactly what we want to grow for our participants.

Bobby, hard at work in one of our participants gardens!

Bobby, hard at work in one of our participants gardens!

As much as we work with the FFA, we wanted to strengthen the relationship we’ve built with them. With this in mind, I set up a field trip for them to visit the Berea College Farm in April! We took about 25 students of all ages.  Unfortunately with time constraints they only had time to see the animal production half of the farm. This just gives us an excuse to take them back soon! The students had the chance to learn about the organic and sustainable practices Berea is implementing, as well as see what opportunities it offers for students!


Another way we are trying to build on that relationship is by hiring two FFA students as summer interns. Jackie and Ashley will be joining us here at the Settlement School in just another week once school is out! Both rising seniors are looking forward to learning more about how the Grow Appalachia program is run, as well as the opportunity to work with some of our other programming we offer. We’re excited to have them on and can’t wait to watch them learn!