Marcelle St. Germain, Big Ugly West Virginia

After a slow start, the 2018 growing season is now in full swing.  Harvesting has begun in earnest as the spring crops are being brought to the table and preserved.  Peas, beets, broccoli, greens, and early green beans are ripe to be picked.  We have also enjoyed for the past month fresh strawberries from the garden.

Last in the ground in early June were the sweet potatoes – hopefully in time to give us a plentiful harvest come September.

Even with the very hot weather, our gardeners are making it to the garden on a daily basis to see what needs watering, weeding, and keeping an eye out for those pests (who arrived a couple of weeks late but they are now here for the summer).    One of the gardeners shared a tip on how to deal with cabbage bugs:  2 tablespoons of mint Listerine in a gallon of water.  Spray on cabbage plants to keep the bugs off.  (And your plants will smell nice!)

We are also excited as Step by Step has a new VISTA, Jodi Ruth, who is both newly graduated from our favorite institution of higher education (Berea College) and is a veteran of work with Grow Appalachia.  In fact, she presented on the Grow App model at last weekend’s Try This conference as part of a panel on encouraging home gardeners.

Jodi will work with both our Grow App sites to further explore healthy cooking recipes and was part of Big Ugly’s music camp whose theme was Home is Where Our Story Starts.  As part of that week, 47 students reflected on what foods made them feel like home, made mobiles of pictures of those foods and even referenced them in the songs they wrote.  On Thursday, they made their own fruit salad and created healthy toppings pizzas.

The next step of this project is to bring in our Grow Appalachia gardeners and 31 Head Start families (who received a healthy meal and a workshop on healthy cooking on June 2) to share their favorite family recipes.  We will then research healthy ways of producing those classics (healthy recipes for mac and cheese out there for anyone) in the firm belief that not all comfort foods have to contribute to heart disease.  We hope to take the recipe collection and start sending a combination of a family meal or reunion photo, a favorite family food memory, and a recipe with healthy ingredients to our local papers once a month starting in the fall.

Thanks to Try This that, through a previous mini-grant provided for us purchasing food processors for the families taking part in these workshops.