Garden Angels

Last year, I had moved up to a Grow Appalachia Coordinator at St. Vincent Mission.  The past few years, I have been under three former Coordinators in the garden and learned a lot from them. I realized that I needed to research on how to stop the weeds that I have dealt with for years. I placed woodchips with black plastic on the walkways, it helped but not around the plants. Therefore, this year we laid black plastic over both of the gardens and burnt holes to place our plants. We put together the drip irrigation that is attached to a water container to water our plants. It is working out perfect.

At this time, my intern had moved on to a full time job elsewhere and I was on my own. One weekend I prayed for some help to arrive cause I had a lot to get done. God sent me garden angels on Monday morning. I was blessed with a group of volunteers from Lexington. They helped cut holes on the shady side garden and planted seeds, put up all the T-post and trellises, hauled woodchips and placed them in all the walkways of the garden. They helped for three days and I was so grateful. I may not have a intern at this time to help, but God is always sending help my way one way or another it all gets done.


WOW! I can’t believe how much it has grown within a month after setting up the garden. We planted tomatoes, beans, tomatoes, beans, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, peppers, corn, squash and zucchini. We will be trellising the tomato plants and if they grow taller then the t-post, we will place a bamboo stick and zip tie it to the t-post with extra trellis. We placed t-post every three plants. We will be using bamboo sticks to support them with the support of the trellis. This is another experiment of mine this year.

Greg Wagner

Greg has been a dedicated volunteer for years at the mission. He has been maintaining the Salsa high tunnel and helping in the garden outside too. He guided me on how to hookup the drip irrigation in the garden. We bought another water container to hookup another drip irrigation on our shady side garden. We are still in the process of getting it done. When Greg returned from the winter away, he was shocked to see much more blueberry plants in the ground. Here are pictures of how quick the high tunnel plants grew within a months time. There’s pictures of the fruit & nut trees we have planted to utilize the space at the mission.


Fairway signs donated tarps to our garden program. We have given a few out to participates and utilizing a couple at the mission to eliminate extra work weeding. We cut to size and placed it around the building next to the kitchen and pantry. We placed woodchips on top and will be container planting herbs and green to use for canning, cooking, baking and giving to community. We used the other half in a flower bed where we planted donated flowers and placed woodchips over it. We have placed center blocks on both sides of the missions driveway to eliminate flooding in the garden and flower bed. We utilized every hole planting flowers in them. We have placed a big tarp behind the carport and warehouse to utilize space by planting a variety of melons, squashes and pumpkins that vine on the hillside. This is another experiment for us this year.

Mountain Comp. Auxier Greenhouse had donated seeds and a variety of plants to our participates and the mission this year. We are so grateful. We have had donations of flowers and tomato plants from others. One of our participates donated many of bamboo sticks to hand out too. Keith Hackworth donated two graft apple trees that we will be placing one in the hole where the truck hit and removed the Dogwood trees in front of the mission. The other hole we have planted a pear tree that was potted at the mission.


It’s a little late in the season for our first garden visit, but mother natures craziness had to take it’s course. This is the best part of my job. I love garden visits sharing different techniques, sharing stories of all their hard work. We have many new participates this year, here are few that were interested in utilizing the tarps we provided to eliminate weeds.

Terry Hayes

She is a new participate to our program. A co-worker’s brother donated his tractor and time to till three of our biggest gardens this year. Terry was one of the ones that was selected.  When she seen that we were using a tractor instead of a tiller she was interested in utilizing her space with two extra garden plots. She was so excited she started guiding them to the two new plots she wanted to till up. Keith Hackworth taught on how to use black plastic and tarps in the garden, she was interested in eliminating weeds. She cut it in half and used it for her melons, squashes and placed straw over it. She raises chickens and ducks and donates many eggs every two weeks to the mission’s pantry to give out to the community. She donated a few of her flowers that she is place on a trellis over her greens to keep them cool this summer. Those flowers are called Love-lies-bleeding, she likes to experiment too. She has three garden plots and lots of work to get done filling them up. Can’t wait for the next visit.

Autumn Wireman

This is her second year on our program. She was interested in utilizing using a tarp and black plastic to eliminate weeds. She had her two kids lay out the tarp for their melons. She did mention that she will be flipping over the tarp due to not making the advertisement visible. They didn’t have any t-post to trellis their beans and tomatoes, therefore, they used old poles from a trampoline. I found that pretty interesting that they utilized what was available to succeed in growing a family garden.

Eric Pitts

This is Eric’s second year on our program and has utilized his yard space this year for growing. He plants his big stuff up on a hill and this year he made use of a tree stump by tying string to trellis his tomato plants with a cage around it and the kids water sprinkler to water his plants after they have fun playing in the water. They are looking for a successful harvest this growing season.

Gracie Burchett

She is a new participate this year to our program. She has been volunteering at the mission for years with landscape and anything that is needed to get done with some of her family members. She had been growing in pots and little spaces in her yard and decided to clear out a bigger garden plot this year. She uses milk crate for greens and herbs. She is a dedicated gardener, even after knee surgery she’s was willing to use her walker to take a picture of her hard work. She stated “Ain’t nothing going to stop her from gardening.”

Grover Caudill

This is his first year on our program, he has gardened since childhood but slacked a little until this year. He stated that he has a lot of space and he will be utilizing it this year for his garden success. He demonstrated using his pull along hoe and suggested that we should provide one to our participates next year to help plant and weed. He has a hillside that he will be preparing for planting too.

Erica Shepard

This is her second year, her mother and father has been on the program for about three years. They got a late start as everyone else due to weather and the lost of her mother. She said they will continue to garden cause her mother loved it and encourage them to start one too. They have added another cucumber frame trellis this year. They use grass clippings and newspaper to bury their kitchen scrapes. They are looking forward to having a great successful growing season.

Patrick Boyd

This is his second year on our program and like everyone else he has had a late start growing too. He has utilized bamboo sticks to trellis a net around his blueberry plants to keep the birds from eating them. I had just suggested doing the same thing at the mission to Greg, now I see that it will work. While he was showing me his garden I discovered that he had a pull along hoe too. He said his family loves using it and the stirrup hoe we provided to help with weeds and planting.


May 22, 2021 the local college had a Sparks event that invited the Farmer’s Market to set up. Our first Farmer’s Market day was scheduled for June 4, 2021 at the ARH Highlands Hospital. It was a success, we made a lot of profit within the first hour. Jeanette bakes and cans, while Greg and I bake fresh bread to sell at the Farmer’s Market. Emmy volunteered to DJ for entertainment and encourage others to face their fear of stage fright by singing Karaoke. Nobody was brave enough but we played music for fun.

We didn’t have a class meeting in the beginning of this month. We have to register for scheduled workshops available the last two weeks. I have posted and informed all participates to register. We will be providing canning jars at the end of the workshops this month.