This is a shared quote that I read, “A garden return 50 times the investment you put into it. Not just food, but joy, peace and a real connection with creation, A spiritual retreat from a noisy world and a hurried people. Grow a Garden!”
This year has presented a challenge for local gardeners. June was unseasonably hot and dry, which stunted or killed out a lot of crops in the area. Then July brought an unusual amount of rain, which brought with it diseases and made it difficult to work in the garden. Despite the season’s challenges, it also gave some unexpected rewards. Beans came in later than usual, but they still arrived and lasted much longer than they typically do. Tomatoes took longer to ripen, but once they did they kept producing well into August. This year also didn’t have the late Spring freeze that we’ve had in years’ past, so gardeners who chanced it and planted their summer gardens a bit early actually came out on the winning side. The key this year to a successful garden was keeping a consistent watering schedule, early pest/disease management, and having a good attitude. Mistakes happen each year and weather is unpredictable, but we always have more seasons to look forward to. One gardener shared that he became a Bee Keeper and his garden production doubled in comparison to last year’s garden!
One of the most exciting success stories that we have is the garden on site at the Scott Christian Care Center. The men from the work release program tilled, planted, weeded, hoed, watered and picked. They entered the produce in the local fair and won 5, 1st Place Blue ribbons, 2, 2nd Place Red Ribbons and 1, 3rd Place White Ribbon!! We are so excited to have this garden on site. The produce was used in the kitchen to cook meals for the men working at the center and a number of volunteers. Some of the volunteers work thru the Recovery Court program as well as some of the inmates from the county jail. The kitchen served 528 people with hot meals from January 2022 to October 2022. The produce was also shared with families who use the Food Pantry services. One of our Grow Appalachia participants, faithfully brought dozens of eggs to share with families in need. We will also use the on-site garden to teach hands on classes for participants and families who use the pantry services. This garden has been a real success. When we went to visit the Senior Citizen’s Community garden we had a real chuckle. Something that I had never seen before, they used “walkers” for tomato cages. That was a success for them in more ways than one. They walkers worked great for the tomatoes and it brought a lot of attention to their program. People would stop and take pictures and get a chance to talk with their director about the programs offered at the Senior Citizen’s facility.
Another success, we had one of the Knoxville reporters come and do a short story and video that aired on the news. He visited one of the participants gardens and a community garden at the Justice Center. Both University of TN extension and the University of KY extension were available to participate in this. You can find the video on the YouTube channel/Grow Appalachia by Charles Denny.
I am very proud of our gardeners this year:
Canning and Dehydrating:
“We had a successful garden. We had a bounty of tomatoes, potatoes(16) bushels, corn, beans (10) bushel, okra, peppers, sweet potatoes (5) bushel, cabbage, broccoli, onions, and a bushel of peanuts. We canned over 450 quarts of food. We were blessed to be active members of Grow Appalachia. This program allowed us to supplement our food supply. We are so thankful to be a part of this program.”
“Everything that we planted grew and produced plenty. We learned a lot in the Grow Appalachia classes/workshops. Failure: Blossom rot on tomatoes, but thankfully we were able to overcome and still have plenty of tomatoes.
One gardeners Rosemary. She said, “Lots of spaghetti sauces for the winter!”
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