In January, I jotted down topics for upcoming blogs, the resounding theme through all of them was the disconnect between Americans and their food supply. Dairy farms were in crisis, major milk brands were in bankruptcy, and lab grown and vegetable-based meats were gaining popularity in every fast food establishment, while farmers struggled to make ends meet. Fast forward a couple of quick months, and we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic, stores are rationing products, farmers are tilling under crops, market ready animals are being disposed of, and all of a sudden, Americans are turning an eye to their food system. Is this a shift for the American Food System to be more local? Will folks cling to local production while waiting for national supplies to catch back up or are we creating new models of feeding our populations regionally? Those are big picture questions I cannot answer, but I can say, here in Knott County, we are working diligently to grow our local food system and our vast network of home gardeners through Grow Appalachia; to insulate our community from pandemic spread food insecurity.
Our sixty plus Grow Appalachia families have adapted to the changing times to make food production a top priority. Over the last 60 days, as our worlds have been turned upside down, we have created ways to connect, educate, and share resources amongst our group. We have relied on social media to ask questions, impart personal methods, and share garden design, visited and shared through car windows during drive through give-a-ways, and in a time of social distancing, feel closer and more connected than ever. Our families are growing food, food that will nourish them, feed their neighbor, and in essence fuel our community. Through Grow Appalachia, our participants are moving through these uncertain times with a sense of security, as they see it, tend it, and grow their own food every day.
I’ll be the first to say, I am not very scholarly, I don’t have the answers to those big picture questions, but my hope is as we move away from COVID19, we understand the importance of food, of place, and value local more than ever. I know here in the mountains, we are holding our long-standing traditions of self-sustainability closely, planning and preparing to feed our community.