Hello dear Grow Appalachia community from Sprouting Hope.
As winter edges ever closer we are beginning to experience frosts in our gardens in Marion and Chilhowie. The buzzing of bees has slowed down, the leaves throughout Hungry Mother State Park are vibrant fall hues, and thankfully the frost has killed many of those gnarly summer weeds and pests. Some families have opted to put their gardens to bed after the late summer bounty by planting ever important cover crop, while others are using season extension materials to tuck in cabbage, lettuce, kale, and collards. Every Homegrown family received seed garlic and were encouraged to get a jump on next season by planting the fragrant cloves this fall. At the Sprouting Hope Community Garden we have been spending a lot of time recently in the 2 hoop houses harvesting the last of our ginger and peanuts, and tending to young radishes, spinach, lettuce, carrots, kale, and cabbage. Each time a new volunteer or group comes to the garden our veteran gardener Karen offers them some of our spicy ginger to take home. It is a joy to teach folks about some of the more exotic items we can grow in Marion, VA with the help of hoops and strong plastic.
Our volunteers have enjoyed making butternut squash soup, baked sweet potatoes, and fresh salads with their harvest in exchange for their hard work this season. We have also had Homegrown gardeners donate some of their winter squash bounty to Sprouting Hope to be distributed to those in need at our community food pantries. In October we had lots of fun garden days, but perhaps the most unique was when the teacher trainees from Whitetop Yoga studio came out to teach a karma yoga class before lending a hand in the community garden. After stretching out our bodies and relaxing our minds we were ready to pull up pepper plants, plant and mulch all of our garlic, tackle some weeding, transplant curly and scarlet kale, and prep beds for future planting.
This is the sort of multifaceted volunteer day that we hope to have more of next season when the weather warms up enough for outdoor yoga classes. The Karma class brought out many new faces and a few others we had missed. Now we are focusing on keeping our fall crops producing into the winter while keeping the deer and bears away from our gardens, and preparing for a new season of community engagement and food production.
My cup is feeling very full and thankful for all our supporters and the great growth and work of our Homegrown families this season!