Recently Red Bird Mission was given the chance to hire interns through a program called Prosper Appalachia. Young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 could apply for summer employment at the Mission in various departments. When asked how many interns I would like to employ, I jumped on the chance to have 6. Two for my community store. Two for the café I hope to be opening soon and two for Grow Appalachia. We had so many applicants take advantage of the opportunity that I was asked to take on more. Happily I ended up with 3 at the community store and 3 coming to work for Grow Appalachia.
I couldn’t have hand picked better interns for Grow Appalachia. These young men, all 16 yrs old, have helped us out so much in our campus gardens. They are hard workers and always jump in to help. Sometimes it gets a little hard for me and Pino to take care of our 55+ members and have one good garden, let alone 3 good gardens. Which is exactly what we have this year. The gardens are bursting at the seams with produce and the weeds are almost nonexistent!
One of the best parts is that the interns are getting so much out of the program too. They are earning a solid paycheck, learning how to help their communities and taking pride in a job well done.
Making a Difference
So much of our children’s time is spent attached to some electronic device. It’s amazing to see how engaged they have become with our GA members and the outside world. One young name started out really shy and withdrawn. He was always quite and hung to the back. On the other hand the other 2 are outgoing and full of excitement and energy and never stop talking. We’re now about a month into the program and the difference in the shy young man’s personality is amazing. Now he will hardly stay quite and doesn’t withdraw to the back and he’s taking great pride in his work. I believe gardening is the perfect way to build confidence. You start with dirt and a little plant or seed, you take care of it and suddenly with care it’s baring this beautiful vegetable or fruit. It’s a measurable accomplishment that can change a life.
First Farmers Market
On June 26th we held our fist farmers market of the season. The interns helped with setting up the tables and assisted customers in making purchases. It’s wonderful having help on these busy days. We had close to 300 people visit our market that day.
Thursday we held our “Plate it Up” distribution. We handed out educational material about healthy eating and “Plate it Up” recipe cards from the University of Kentucky. We also distributed canning jars and lids. The interns were a great help and kept things moving smoothly as 49 members came by.
We were happy to welcome Will Bowling to our distribution. He is the new Agriculture Extension agent for Clay County, KY. The interns and members gained a lot of information from his visit and we look forward to working with him more in the future.
The Grow Appalachia program does so much to make changes in peoples lives, directly and indirectly. The people it feeds when neighbors and friends share their harvest. Now through Grow Appalachia we are able to help young adults get a better start in life. While learning to work they are learning to raise gardens and possibly feed their families and friends in the future.
We are so blessed to have Grow Appalachia and Prosper Appalachia here at Red Bird.