Marcelle St. Germain
Grow Appalachia Big Ugly, WV
Step by Step, Inc.

Going with the flow here at Big Ugly. Like everyone else, we had to shift plans midstream to make things work for us to grow plants and to get seeds, fertilizer, and plants to our gardeners.

Special thanks are in order, to a number of folks, who made a big difference in helping us get off the ground.

Lacy Davidson from Wayne County arranged to have the fertilizer delivered to her father’s store in Branchland, WV. Lacy’s father, Jay Davidson, made the distribution of the fertilizer very smooth for us. He used his tow motor to load up most of our gardeners who lined up in their trucks awaiting the delivery. Most of our two-ton order was on its way within a half hour.

Additionally, AmeriCorps Volunteer, Robin Sargent, has been a godsend with help in our greenhouse. Because of the virus, our college groups were unable to come and we rely on them to help transplanting and getting the program off the ground in March. Robin had been working in the schools and when they closed she asked about coming to Big Ugly. She has been a daily presence helping with packing seeds, seeding trays, and assisting with the care of the plants day-to-day (including weekends). It’s a whole new learning experience for Robin and she has discovered her love of plants! With the explosion of new gardeners in the program, Robin was able to seamlessly move into a role to help with the project.

Two sets of veteran gardeners were lightning quick with transplanting most of our tomatoes and peppers and getting them ready to distribute. They worked all day in the greenhouse undisturbed by any other humans.
They said they were grateful to have a day out to do something, especially in the midst of rainy, wet weather.

The Community Food Initiative Project in Athens, Ohio, received a donation of potatoes and passed along close to 6,000 pounds of seed potatoes for Big Ugly, Logan County Grow App, and McDowell County Grow App. They saved us a bundle of money as our gardeners love to grow potatoes. Our loyal and reliable volunteers, Buck West and his son Brian, drove to Athens and came back with quite a load on their trailer.

A final bit of great news for gardeners came on May 7th as we were able to secure funds to get chicks for those gardeners who wanted to try and raise them. Both Logan County Grow App gardeners and Big Ugly gardeners were the proud parents of 200 chicks. Chicks and feed were distributed within 3-4 hours of arrival. It was a really fun day! We were able to use some emergency COVID 19 money from the Educational Foundation of America (EFA) thanks to our partner Coalfield Development Corporation and repurpose funds for family learning Saturdays from The Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Initiative
to cover the chicks.

We are grateful that we have funders that recognize that people investing in their long term food security is one of the best ways we can meet this current crisis head-on.

So we are still figuring things out especially since it’s still too early to meet for workshops. When gardeners pick up plants, tools, and other resources, our greenhouse is roped off and we load up their goods, wearing masks, one gardener at a time. We’re taking it one day at a time; keeping track of community virus spread in our area and working to keep everyone safe and happy while gardening.