Greetings from Valerie on Cowan Creek!
We have been quite, but for too long, but are happy to be here and see all the good work our Grow Appalachia family is doing. It has been a challenging year, but Debbie Cook, Grow Appalachia Coordinator has done a fabulous check making it work. Our first goal was to do no harm and then to help get those gardens growing. Grow Appalachia mission is more important than ever and the need for families to feel confident in growing their own food more important than ever. We were off to a good start with garden planning meetings in January and February, and since then we’ve had no gatherings. We have carefully found ways to support families. Debbie has very carefully distributed seeds, fertilizer and plants to families with drive thrus and practicing social distancing. It has been a challenge for sure, but we do feel this work is essential. Nell Fields, board chair, commented that Grow Appalachia has done an amazing job equipping all of our families w/skills and resources to be confident in some degree of food support during these challenging times. We have close to 125 families that we have worked with at this time and our list continues to grow. We make it work and appreciate that our community views Grow Appalachia as a common resource to move gardening forward. Getting gardens plowed and ready for planting has been a strong initiative. We have over 50 gardens on the list and are almost there on getting those gardens ready for planting. All of our sites, have them, but please enjoy these pictures from Roxie Cornett, a young family that is enjoying their garden this year.
Cowan and CANE Kitchen are partners with the USDA Summer Food Service Program. This year with the pandemic a new delivery option is available for families that allows for meal kits. Meal kits provide breakfast and lunch or dinner for 7 days for youth 18 and below. Meal kits include ingredients that meet USDA guidelines that are easy for youth and/or families to prepare. This will be a delivery option as long as the pandemic is happening. We are grateful to Jennifer Smith, Division of School and Community Nutrition, who zoomed right into our living rooms for a Cowan Community Center meeting to learn details of the program and how we make it happen at Cowan and CANE. It is happening! Last week we served meal kits to 826 youth, this week we anticipate that number to double. If your site is not a USDA SFSP, it is a wonderful opportunity to serve your community and brings other opportunities along that supports local growers and brings fresh produce to youth in our community. The USDA SFSP brings employment opportunities also to the community.
We also participate in the KY Dept of AG Veggie Incentive Program that allows CANE to receive a 50% reimbursement for fresh produce that is used in summer meals. This allows us to purchase from local growers for ingredients and in this case to add to meals. Most meal kits contained local greens from Southdown Farm. Kale, Mustard and Chard were included in the meal kits with recipes for preparing.
Time to distribute those meals now and wishing you all a safe and happy day. Eat your greens!