With Daylight Saving Time approaching in three days, everyone has the itch to start their gardens. I’ve noticed the sunshine sticking around a little longer in the evenings. The bloom of the beautiful spring flowers reminds me that spring is right around the corner. The last few weeks have been busy with combing through applications for the program, hosting and holding the first workshop of the season, and starting to gather supplies.

We have been so encouraged by the number of participants signed up this year. We have sixty-three participants in total signed up for the 2024 growing season. Out of those sixty-three participants forty-two of them are new to the program and fifteen of them are brand new to gardening. We have so many returning participants who are stepping up to serve as mentors to our new gardeners. Many youths plan to serve this year in exchange for community service hours.

Pictures have been pouring in of families starting their seeds, finding gems hidden in the garden through the winter that was looked over, and seedlings starting to sprout. It’s interesting to read why people are interested in the program. But I saw several similarities and common themes popping up within each answer: family, community, fresh foods. So many people want to teach their families how to grow and provide their own fruits and vegetables. So many people want to make sure their neighbors aren’t going hungry.  Many people want to grow fresh foods to encourage trying new foods.

No matter the reason, it’s always encouraging and inspiring seeing people come together in a community. Last week at our workshop, I saw people from last years program pulling each other into hugs asking about families and winter crops. I saw mommas chasing babies around. I saw different generations sitting in the same room, with the same cause. Here’s to the 2024 growing season, may we all be humble enough to learn something new and grow a bountiful harvest.

Heather Cook

WVU Extension- Family Nutrition Program