-Marcelle St. Germain
-Step by Step, Big Ugly

On May 4th, the Big Ugly Community Center had its spring festival. Our Grow Appalachia Garden Maintenance Workshop was a part of the festival. Weed, weed, weed was the theme of the workshop. To assist with this chore, gardeners had a choice of hoes to attend to the job.

We are very lucky to be purchasing our tools in conjunction with Logan County Grow Appalachia. We are able to buy in bulk thus getting very significant price reductions. Michael Tierney’s small business operation Words Walking, allows for orders to get through in a timely fashion (and the prices are way better than on Amazon) although his inventory description of “children’s books and hoes” sometimes raises some eyebrows.

But a tip for people ordering large amounts for community efforts: have someone set up a small business. Wholesale discounts can be 40% to 50% compared to the, at best, 20% discounts most nonprofits can get.

Along with encouraging our new gardeners to try the skuffle hoe for weeding their gardens, we also have found that a tool called the “hoe dag” is great for close work in the garden. The hoe day is essentially a handheld pick. The blade on one end is more pointed for precision weeding. On the other end, the blade is broader for deeper digging. It has a 2 sided carbon steel blade and a hardwood handle. It’s made in Idaho. The creator of the hoe dag recently passed away, however, a young couple has taken over the production of the tool.

At our workshop, our new gardeners got a look at these tools for the first time. It was fun to watch them turn over these tools wondering which might work best for them. With their new tools and the hortonova netting, they can see that our Grow Appalachia program offers new approaches to their garden work.

And afterwards many of our gardeners stayed after for the community meal that was full of healthy

cooking items by our former VISTA and current after school cook Rowan Zoeller. Rowan has gotten our community excited about sweet potatoes (both fries and hummus), new ways to prepare salads, the most extraordinary pepperoni rolls of all time, (locally sourced can be healthy and fun) and healthy substitutes for dressings. We are excited that she will be a full-time cook at one of our summer food sites this year.

The spring festival also included a youth entrepreneurship project that included activities in part inspired by Grow Appalachia. The children and teens of Big Ugly both hatched and raised baby chicks and flower plants and sold enough that 10 of them made $17 a piece. This was part of a coloration with

the WV Community Development Hub that had special support from Appalachian Transition Fellow Kandi Workman (from Highlander but placed with Step by Step) and Big Ugly Community Center Lead Enrichment Leader Candy Vannatter.