Recently, I was lucky enough to attend the Grow Appalachia All-Hands Gathering. We spent the better part of two days sharing successes, trading tricks and tips, and getting up to date with all Grow Appalachia has to offer. Somewhere in the middle of that, David Cooke referred to the program as true community development. Now I certainly knew the program addressed food insecurity, boosted the local food movement, and even turned over a few dollars for folks; but the thought that this is true grassroots community development had slipped my pea-brain. We, as a collective group of sites and organizations, are growing the common good.

I spent some time that night thinking about how our small group of families have changed the landscape of Knott County. This program certainly jumpstarted our farmers market, brought about conversations on food insecurity, and shined a light on our unique food culture. In many ways, it also stimulated the development of our Foodways program at Hindman Settlement School. Taking a minute to see the thirty-thousand-foot view of Grow Appalachia in our community certainly solidified that notion of community development.

I ventured back down I-75 and across the Hal Rogers Parkway with a fire in my belly to elevate our Grow Appalachia program at Hindman Settlement School. Our program is certainly established and has been helping families produce food since 2013. Our participants have learned new, organic ways of home gardening and built relationships with fellow gardeners. They have truly found a community by socializing before and after our meetings, but I am determined to develop deeper relationships, advance programming, and be more involved and present year-round. I came home committed to growing our common good.

Our seventh season of Grow Appalachia started recently. 2020 is looking pretty profound with 14 seminars on organic production, culinary arts, and food culture; a new reporting metric to see the number of people eating our food; and improved communication lines. For more information about this program or to join us in growing the common good, contact Jason Brashear at