And growing begins!

May has just flown by!  Hello Grow Appalachia family, Debbie Strickland here in Greeneville, TN!  Our teens at Rural Resources have been busy getting gardens started at home and at our farm.  We have had a lot of rain that has been great for most of our growing spaces.  Our other growing spaces have been put on hold till it was dry enough to get them in, and, the flat tire fixed on our truck in order to transport materials.  I was very excited to almost have all the garden spaces done, until we hit the flat tire and rain.  I came in and loaded all the soil, leaves, and plants needed to finish a bed we started then just one more too go.  When driving down the road, thank goodness it was well traveled and flat, the tire on the truck just popped.  I ended up sitting for 2.5 hours waiting for help to arrive with a big jack and spare tire.  We did not get the garden finished that day, then rain had hit us for almost two solid weeks.  We are finally arranging to try and get that garden in this week!  Then just one more to go!!  In the meantime, the teens have been busy working on the garden at the farm, and putting together container gardens.   Some of our teens cannot put a garden bed in, raised or in the ground, they can only have containers because of where they live or what land is accessible is not suitable for any other type of growing space.  Those with containers have been getting those planted and taken home.  Many are excited because they are already starting to see carrots and lettuce coming up through the ground.  You would have thought it was a new baby with the glitter and excitement that shown in their eyes, and the grin on their face!  Here are some pictures of the gardens going in and the gardens growing:


We have also had some cooking classes where the teens have had the chance to work with grains and sweet breads.  The teens used fresh produce to make items from scratch.  They made a great risotto, macaroni and cheese, a brown rice salad, sage biscuits, cornbread, cranberry walnut scones, and gluten free strawberry muffins.  Is your mouth watering yet?!  I feel like an impatient child waiting for the teens to prepare the food, smelling the wonderful aroma from the kitchen, and sitting at the table with my napkin tucked in my shirt and knife and fork in hand!  The dishes were amazing that the teens had created and for several, the first time they had ever made anything fresh.  They were amazed at the flavors present and the ease of making the dishes.  During each class we emphasize the choices we make in the food we choose to eat and how healthy or unhealthy it is for us.  The teens are very amazed at the difference of cooking fresh versus frozen meals, boxed meals, and the big difference in fast food.  Our cooking group shows high hopes as they seem very excited to be in the kitchen.  They focus, listen to the chefs, thoroughly look at the recipes, work very well together in making their dishes, and they turn out amazing!  They have begun planning their first catered meal this month at our local soup kitchen.  They are excited to give back to the community and share what they are learning and creating with others.  So, not to make me be the only one to drool over these dishes I mentioned, here are some pictures of them:

Well, we are off to begin our preservation classes and continue our cooking series learning how to cook and cooking with fresh local foods from our gardens, and gardening, gardening, gardening.  Enjoy the beginning of summer.


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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