Greetings from Appalachian Sustainable Development! Fall is a magical time here in Abingdon, Virginia. Honestly, fall is a pretty magical experience anywhere in the Appalachian Mountains. Delicious food traditions, like apple butter and fresh cider, to the deep orange and vibrant red mosaic of the hills, this time of year is a gift. For the first-time gardeners of Grow Your Own, this time of year has a whole new meaning, while the second-year gardeners are thankful their efforts were better rewarded this year. Together, this group of dedicated gardeners raised over 20,000 pounds of produce.

The final workshop of the year took place this past month where garlic, row cover and cover crop were distributed to families. Participants were encouraged to plant their garlic on Halloween. Students at Haynesfield Elementary and Washington-Lee Elementary School had lots of fun separating stinky garlic cloves to plant at their school gardens in another ASD program, Learning Landscapes.

Folks have shared seed with the program, most of it beans, but a few donations of tomato and pepper seeds have been made too. Just today, a participant donated rattlesnake bean seed, but also shared some of her granny smith apples and potatoes from her garden. Of course, they won’t keep, so they’ll be devoured in due time. Many friends were made this season and there is no finer friend than a gardener.

ASD and partner sites at Rural Resources, Build It Up East Tennessee, and Sprouting Hope gathered at the beginning of October to discuss ways to build a better program by leveraging one another’s strengths and opportunities to serve more people. The meeting occurred at Rural Resources in Greeneville, Tennessee which is situated next to a quiet creek off a crooked back road. As a group this season, we’ve partnered on group orders as much as possible and we’ve communicated regularly to discuss programs and strategies. The demonstration garden didn’t grow much food this season, but the progress we’ve made as a regional group has been the harvest for ASD. Rural Resources also has amazing cats, see photos below.