Victory Gardens

Hello from Debbie Strickland in beautiful Greeneville, TN!  Taylor Boles, our Garden and Grazing manager who is an AmeriCorps member, is writing to you today from Rural Resources’ world.  Please enjoy her writings:

Greetings from May! Here at Rural Resources we are as busy as soldier bees! We have several events coming up including our Annual Meeting, which can be found on our website and other forms of social media.

The weather has finally warmed up (I better not cross my fingers), so the teens have been very involved in the maintenance of the on-site garden and their own, as well. This year, the teens and I decided it would be fun to model our garden after a historical Victory Garden layout that I found in a museum’s archives. For those of you that may have forgotten, the idea of Victory Gardens was birthed in response to World War II. Home Front families were concerned that there would not be enough food for themselves and our fighting soldiers, so in the name of Uncle Sam more than 20,000,000 garden were planed in backyards across the United States.  Power to the people! One of the most important concepts from Victory Gardens is sustainability.  At Rural Resources, we take what the United States learned from World War II. Victory Gardens and apply it to the present. It’s an awesome feeling to connect with history, and I think the teens definitely agree with me.  (here is a copy of the victory garden I found)

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While the on-site teen garden is full of excitement, I am anxious to see how the teens implement their new gardening knowledge into their own home gardens. All of them have been either planted and/or built. I will spill the beans, though; two of the most requested plants for the teens were cabbage and broccoli. Quite frankly, I did not expect a good number of teens to even ask for either of those vegetables. It’s good to see change.

(Here are some of our teen home gardens in progress and growing!)

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Speaking of change, there are a few new projects that the teens and I have in store for this upcoming year. Two of them include implementing our own fresh fruit and vegetables more into“snack time” and growing some experimental mushrooms.  Ever heard of micro-greens? These sprouts are especially good to throw into salads and soups.  They are easy to grow and packed full of nutrients. One always hopes that their crop will be bountiful, so not only will we be eating them during snack time, but also cooking with them in our second year teen group.

We can buy mushrooms at the store, but where do they come from? Many people forage for them, but can you grow them yourself? You totally can grow them at home or on your farm. Infact, they’re probably one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Technically, they are fungi. Most growers cultivate them in wooden logs, which is what we plan to do at Rural Resources. There’s a big market for them since people tend to forget that they can grow them. Since we’re putting a huge emphasis on market gardening for the teens this year, this is the perfect time to start tryingto grow them. I don’t think they would taste too bad in our snack time micro-green salads either!

Until next time (and enjoy some other pictures from this month),

Taylor Y. Boles

(Appalachia CARES/AmeriCorps Garden & Grazing Manager)

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About the Author:

I am from a farming community in Indiana where my family farmed over 200 acres. As a teen, my family moved to Florida where I became heavily involved in 4-H and developed a love for service and passing knowledge onto others. I graduated and began working at the local girls club while attending college for a Business/Administration degree. I realized that teaching youth was my passion and stayed at the girls club for 12 years before moving to East Tennessee. In East Tennessee I was able to reconnect with my farming roots and began a home garden. In growing, I tapped further into my roots and began canning and freezing food for my family. Really enjoying putting to use all the long hours working on the farm in my youth and realizing how important that was for me to learn, I wanted to get back into teaching youth again! Skimming help wanted adds, led me to Rural Resources who was looking for a coordinator to run their Farm and Food Teen Training Program. All my loves in one - youth at-risk, farming, gardening, cooking, and business planning! What a wonderful life to share my passions with others, play on the farm, enjoy local home cooked food, and advance these youth to a better future! Here I have been for 6 beautiful, happy, and productive years!

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