Marcelle St. Germain
Step by Step, Big Ulgy, West Virginia

The staff at Big Ugly Community Center lead by Tami Boling have been serving children and their families in the community for many a year though this year (since March) they had to be quite creative in their approach due to COVID19 restrictions. One of the very creative ideas that the staff came up with and implemented was a science project that involved gardening for Kindergarten through 5th grade.

With tomato plants from our greenhouse and sunflower seeds from our collection, Tami and her crew developed an educational activity for growing plants. Students (along with interested family members) were to study the plant’s habitat, the growth and environment of the plants, and plant biology. Students who were participating measured, recorded and charted the growth of the plant for 8 weeks. They also were directed to pay attention to the insects in the neighborhood of the plants.

We are waiting on a report on how our junior gardeners did with their tomato plants. Hoping they are either picking tomatoes now or will be in the very near future. We have had 102 children signed up for these summer learning experiences (out of 150 we are feeding every day). 94 of those have responded to our family learning activities. We have long dreamed of recruiting families with school age children through the students’ interest and with 100% family engagement with those summer students who responded, believe this next spring will be our strongest recruitment to date.

Meanwhile, our regular gardeners have been very busy harvesting, canning, freezing and drying. We have been very lucky to have had some significant rainfall toward the back part of July and early August which has helped the harvest (One night there was altogether too much rain and one of our gardeners had his sloped garden wiped out in the torrential rain). Those with flatter gardens managed to get through the rainstorm with better results.

We look forward to following all of this success posted on the increasingly Grow Appalachia 2020 Big Ugly Community Center Facebook page. Topics lately have included Canning Chow Chow, pictures of peach jelly, pickles, pumpkins and a phone case that looks like a Ball canning jar. If you’d like to join our FB group please email us at and we’ll send you an invite.