Greetings from Abingdon, Virginia!

July was hot and dry, as usual. Harvest reports are trickling in boasting sweet corn, peppers, and the first of the tomatoes. It seems like yesterday strawberries were in and everyone was rushing to make sweet jams from their red flesh. It is true that as one ages, time speeds up. Simultaneously, there are more things to do with seemingly less time. Gardening provides slowness.

Fall’s imminent approach triggers a desire for pumpkins. However, the time has past to plant these globes of deep orange. Another lesson in deliberate research and intentional planning. Why would someone know when to plant pumpkins? The need for this knowledge is seemingly obsolete. The desire for pumpkins is easily fulfilled in a quick trip to the grocery store.

Save the few who believe that it is the right and honest thing to do with one’s limited time – to grow a garden. The choice is ultimately decided again and again each spring. As one ages, the body makes the choice. The knees say, “no”. The back says, “not this year”.

There is a handful of gardeners this year that are raising their last garden. Not because of age necessarily, but because there are other priorities competing over dwindling time. Nonetheless, the seed has been planted. The desire for pumpkins, red ripe tomatoes or sweet corn will draw some of them back.

Growing a garden is a lesson in timing. It also teaches, “sometimes your best is not good enough”. A tough lesson.

But most of the time, the dedication and love put into a garden is given back many times over. Below is photographic evidence of that love.

Michelle Morgan has been a part of the Grow Appalachia family for three years now. Establishing herself as a dedicated volunteer alongside long-time leader, Deni Peterson – her journey with this project is coming to an end. Having managed ASD’s Grow Appalachia program full-time since 2017, she will complete her final workshops this August. Her journey is calling her back to Buffalo Ridge. Her hometown of Maynardville, Tennessee will be home once again as she rebuilds her family’s farmland.

Welcome Chelsea Goulding!

Chelsea comes to ASD with a wealth of knowledge and a deep respect for the Appalachian Mountains. She currently lives in the outskirts of Washington County, Virginia, on a small plot with 2 cats, 6 pet chickens, too many houseplants, and a backyard brimming with food. Familiar with both home and market gardens, she has managed multiple farms and comes to us directly from the position of Greenhouse Manager at Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC). A VHCC alum, she also holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Horticulture from Virginia Tech.

Treating her backyard as a laboratory, Chelsea always ends up focusing on at least one mini-project a year. Currently in her garden, she is experimenting with the impact of different mulching materials and methods on plant health. She is fascinated that the tomatillo previously deer-pruned is producing ten times the fruit as those not deer-pruned, and she is comparing the growth habits of five different species of sage and ten varieties of basil in her herb row.

Chelsea looks forward to bringing her years of knowledge and experience to Appalachian Sustainable Development and Grow Appalachia.