Berry Bright Future

My name is Michelle Young and I am the Grow Appalachia Coordinator and the Director or Economic Opportunity at Red Bird Mission. In my position, I am always looking for ways to help the people in our community. I want to help provide access to fresh, healthy food, and to help my community become more financially stable. Grow Appalachia helps me do this by giving our members the chance to learn to grow their own food, sell at our farmers’ market and create value-added products in our community kitchen.

Berry Interesting

Recently an opportunity called BerryCare came to the attention of Tracy Nolan, the Director of  Community Outreach. The BerryCare project will provide Grow Appalachia members with 6 blackberry starts and supplies to raise their own blackberry patch. The goal of BerryCare is to teach members the basics of planting and maintaining blackberry bushes using UK Cooperative Extension publications. BerryCare also wants to help provide a sustainable source of fresh berries so that families can have healthier food choices. With our Grow Appalachia grant, I was also able to purchase strawberry starts and rhubarb. I am very excited to see what the talented cooks in my group come up with.

Berry Good for You

There is also a nutrition component with the BerryCare program that gives examples of creative ways to use blackberries. It explains that blackberries may potentially provide protection against the negative health effects of environmental pollution. The research is funded by the University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center, which works to reduce the negative effects of environmental pollutions on people’s health. Funding also comes from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment Undergraduate Research Award, which provides UK students the opportunity to learn about the research process.

It’s Just the Berries

While providing a base for research our members can gain access to a wonderful new resource. The blackberries can be used to create jams, jellies, syrups and so much more. As a result, they would make wonderful new products to be sold in our certified Roadside Farm Market and our Red Bird Farmers Market. I am very excited about this new venture. We will work closely with our local extension agents who will be providing educational material to all the farmers participating.