Cowan Community Action Group, Inc. celebrates ten years with Grow Appalachia this year.

On Cowan Creek, the red buds begin to bloom, forsythia bushes blaze, gardens are turned and seeds are planted.                                   And….one of the kindest men we’ve met leaves us.

Don Maggard, was at our first Grow Appalachia meeting in 2012.  He was warm, kind and genuine and always had the same generous smile.  He was visiting from the county over, but his sister, Wilma a longtime member at Cowan Community Center had let him know about a new garden project happening at Cowan.  What a difference he made in Grow Appalachia and the Farmers Market.

Don was never loud or demanding of attention, but you always wanted to listen to him.  He made you feel calm and seemed to give you permission to relax.  He was a patient and quiet teacher.  I imagine he never gave anyone an answer they didn’t ask for, but would be patient if asked to explain and teach if you wanted it.  When he was around, there was always listening and learning going on…both ways.

Don, almost never missed a workshop or meeting and usually explained why if he couldn’t be at a gathering.  You could tell when he committed to something….. he committed.  Don never said no to any request the market or Grow Appalachia made of him.  He was always such a fine representative, speaking quietly on behalf of farmers and the earth.  He always wanted to learn, he never assumed he knew enough and couldn’t learn something from someone.

As Cowan’s Grow Appalachia program grew, Don grew.  He was with the first Farmers Market, serving on the board and always working to grow a stronger market.  He brought only the finest produce to the market.  He was kind and encouraging to all.  His customers loved him and he was good to his customers.  I know how he was pleased to deliver to the car or even homes of elders who needed help.  His daughter, Abby, worked at the market during those days and she always made sure he had the best booth with fresh flowers picked from their home and perfect checked table cloths and baskets.  He always had a helper at the market with Jaydon, Sheldon or Landon.

Don was always eager for the next opportunity to learn or grow.  He was in our first micro-processing class and we worked to get his sweet corn recipe approved and canned.  He was always ready for a new training or a field trip.  We traveled may miles from Seven Springs Farm in Floyd, Va to the UK Farm and he was always the best.  Pleased to be there and open to consider anyone and any idea.

Don was hopeful for CANE Kitchen and the opportunities for farmers and families.  He and Abby are pictured above in a Grow Appalachia class at CANE Kitchen taught by my daughter, Callie. They are making apple butter and apple sauce.  Callie just let me know he brought his apple bread to share that day.  Thank you Callie for searching and finding these pictures and recognizing his specialness.  I think Don is the kind of man that reminds everyone of their Dad or the Dad they needed sometimes.

Don went much deeper with gardening that I could ever talk about, but was always kind and patient with me.  He was in the mountains for decades practicing all the right stewardship of the land. He studied his seeds and shared them generously and was proud to set up at local seed swaps.

I often talk about all the ‘programs’ but tonight it felt right to talk about one of the best people.

It’s a sad time for his family, but he sure makes you believe in the circle of life.   Gone, gonna rise again.

Kathy Mattea – “Gone, Gonna Rise Again” – YouTube

Sharing his obituary here. On behalf of myself personally, the Farmers Market, Cowan Community Center’s Grow Appalachia program and CANE Kitchen we are humbled and honored to have been a part of his life and found worthy to mention in his obituary.

Donald Ray Maggard Obituary – Visitation & Funeral Information (


Valerie Horn