Things are progressing nicely in Wise County, Virginia. The twenty families in our home gardening program are seeing things grow, and Wesley and I are beginning to get some site visits in. The community gardens we began with Grow Appalachia’s help back in 2014 are seeing the most life they’ve seen yet, and with this wet weather, the advantages of raised beds have been apparent to those taking that route.
Wise County Master Gardener Erica Dell – who learned of the Master Gardener Program through her participation in the community gardens – is now taking the lead on promoting the garden plots and is doing an outstanding job. Erica, Wesley and I have been joining in on a phone conference weekly with representatives of a group in New Jersey who have secured grant funding for one of the community gardens sites, at the Health Wagon in Wise. These funds have allowed us to build five raised beds on the site and will allow the gardeners in both the conventional and raised bed plots to be reimbursed for plant and seed purchases. They’ll soon be erecting a sign on the site that will include logos of all the organizations that have been a part of bringing this particular garden to fruition, including Grow Appalachia.
We’ve begun a “check-out” program with our organic pest control products, and our home gardening participants have been making use of those. (I’m hopeful they’ll see success with the Spinosad and Pyganic in spite of the frequent rains.)
In July, we’ll have a couple of non-mandatory trainings: Wesley will do one on high tunnels, and I’ll be showing the participants how to do a Florida weave. Emily, our FCS agent, will cover healthy cooking later in July as one of the six mandatory classes, and then she’ll do food preservation in August.
I’ve been pleased with the level of enthusiasm our participants have continued to show, even though the weather has been less than ideal.