..a Thousand Words.
I have loved being a Grow Appalachia Coordinator from the very first moment. Like everyone else, I have been stuck in the office but recently I took time out to hit the gardens with my Field Assistant Pino Brock. We had the most amazing day visiting our members. I want to share with you photos that were taken during our day. This is why we do what we do and why our jobs are so important.
My Favorite Visit
We visited the Brock family gardens and to my delight, there were four generations present that day working in the garden. The oldest is 93 years old and the youngest is 6 years old. Passing knowledge from generation to generation is so important. Every time I speak with the members of Grow Appalachia I learn something new and it’s such a blessing for these children to have this wealth of knowledge at their fingertips.
These young men are so proud of their garden. They happily showed me around, pointing out the things they had helped their great-grandfather, great uncle, and father plant.
Pino’s father is an avid apiculturist (beekeeper) and didn’t mind getting up close and personal with the Brock family bees. I steadied myself and took a close look too, but I’ll be honest, all the buzzing and swarming made me nervous. Mr. Brock hasn’t had this hive started for very long but is happy with their progress. In the last photo above he is pointing to the queen. The hive is close to his garden which is great for the pollination of his crops. I loved seeing the bees working the corn.
Variety is the theme of the Sizemore garden. Beautiful herbs, flowers, and a wide array of fruit and vegetables. They had just finished picking beans when we arrived. They even had a stand of bamboo growing near their garden. Needless to say, we ended up hauling a 17-foot bamboo pole back to the office. Pino is not only a green thumb he is also an amazing carpenter. The ideas that the bamboo inspired were amazing.
The Brock Garden
Brock is a very common name in our area. This is another garden raised by Brocks. Roberta and her husband Farmer are always so much fun to visit. I don’t believe I have ever seen Roberta without a smile on her face and you will never meet a person with a kinder heart. Here is Farmer with 2 cantaloupes they grew in their garden. One of their grandsons has planted pumpkins for Halloween. They are coming along nicely. He comes by his green thumb naturally!
Pino ended up leaving their home with 2 cantaloupes and I almost let with a kitten.
The Sizemores (No, a different family)
Mr. Sizemore is an authority on Appalachian history and he is very proud of his roots and they do run deep in these mountains. He described how the land where he is was currently living and gardening had been in his family for a long time and he recalled to us how it looked when he was a little boy.
Mr. Sizemore was disappointed I hadn’t been able to see his green beans in their full glory, but it wasn’t hard to imagine how beautiful they were. He showed us around his garden and land pointing out an apple tree in his yard that is over 100 years old. I should have taken a photo of it but I got distracted by the kittens playing in its shade. There’s also a Pawpaw tree, dog ticks, aka castor bean plants, and some of the prettiest sunflowers that I’ve seen. Mr. Sizemore’s wife also had some green beans drying in the sun. Someone is going to be happy this fall when those shucky beans are put on the table.
David Mosley and his family live in one of the most beautiful places in Leslie County, KY. You travel several miles on a one-lane road that is slipping over the side of the mountain. While traveling to their home we passed an engineer accessing the situation and developing a plan to save the road. Once you get past the landslides (there’s more that one), the valley opens up and tells you why he and his family choose to live in such a remote location. It’s breathtaking and it feels like your walking into a postcard. His garden is sitting on the side of a hill and a radio plays constantly to keep wildlife away. Deer can be a huge problem in our gardens but this seems to be working quite well for him.
Everyone was upset with me for visiting and taking pictures so late in the season. Weeds were starting to win the battle in the gardens. Nevertheless, it’s glorious.
Charlene and her husband Herman rarely miss selling their produce at the Red Bird Farmers Market. Charlene’s apple butter and pear butter are the best anywhere around. They have a large garden and a large family that love visiting because there’s always something good cooking in Charlene’s kitchen. You won’t leave her home without something wonderful. She knows I have a love of saur kraut and insisted I take a jar home with me. I was happy to oblige.
This is why.
The food that we help grow in these hollers and creek sides helps so many families. Everyone shares and that’s one reason it’s hard for me to get people to sell their extra produce at the farmers market. They give it away. Their only concern is helping their neighbors and friends. It makes me so proud to be from this community and I am so happy that we have a program like Grow Appalachia that allows me to help so many people in my community. It’s so appreciated.