Here’s some photos from our most recent workshop, food preservation. We processed salsa and spaghetti sauce. This would have originally been held in August, but illnesses bumped it back twice. Regardless, we got it done and I must say it was best looking workshop to date!
With delays making this our last workshop of the season, it became a fell farewell gathering of sorts and a time to reflect through the season ending our third year as a program.

Our workshops are getting better and better. I’m gaining confidence. As a first-time instructor, in front of live people, it’s been incredibly challenging but so much fun. Each year brings a chance to practice again, dial it in and it’s great to be where we are now compared to where we started.

What is developing into an outdoor garden classroom, our own backyard garden, has come a long way. Local scouts donated time and materials to build a small pavilion we are using as shelter and seating for garden activities. Feedback from our garden families was tremendous after in-person demonstrations of skills like pruning and trellising. A medium sized water catchment project is temporarily providing water and has become an asset for workshops as well.

Like all previous seasons, we’ve had victories and losses. Some gardeners bowed out or were inactive due to evictions, personal illness, family illness and changes in employment. Spring was unseasonably hot and dry. I don’t have to tell our northern friends that summer was wet… too wet. Reports of critter activity and mold seemed higher. Compared to previous years, yields are lower, and discouragement was plentiful.

Still, we saw first time gardeners do so well and develop such a passion that it is already evident they are in for a lifetime. Both new and experienced homesteaders have used the year to fill in a vital piece of their homesteads – vegetable production & preservation. Teenagers developed opinions about what they wanted to grow this year and next. Our equipment on loan program has helped a couple of families can at home for the first time, get caught up on weeding after letting things run away, and expand a garden mid-season. Workshops have grown in depth and presentation.

So, it went about as planned. As every year seem to prove somewhere … it’s not guaranteed. We’re happy with it and so very grateful! Thanks Grow Appalachia for all the support and all that you do. ~Jason