What’s growing at Grow Oak Ridge in 2024

Here at Grow Oak Ridge, we are excited to return for our second year as a partner site to Grow Appalachia! This year, we have 31 families enrolled in the Grow Your Own program. 7 of those families are tuning in for gardening education as part of the “Education Only” component, which is new to our program this year. 4 families are supported with supplies through the local Y-12 Gives Foundation and are receiving education from Grow Appalachia. They will be gardening in the Welcome Garden located in the First Presbyterian Church Community Garden. We have one more gardener growing in the Welcome Garden and the rest are in their backyards.

Introducing our gardeners and gardens! Our gardeners have named their gardens again this year, and it’s been so fun to see the creativity with what they’ve come up with. This year, we’ve got: Freya’s Playground, Amber’s Garden, Wild Roots, Poppy’s Patch, The Burrow, Stew Baby’s Super Seeds, Trowel & Error, Henwood Hollow, Oliver’s Garden, Nani’s Nursery, Lazy Girls Garden, Garden of Eatin’, Hazel Hill, Samwise´s Poh-tah-toes, Bucket Bounty, Healthy Living, Mamaw Shell’s Seeds N’ Such, Garden of Dobrescu, Cloudless Path Community Garden, Ceres’ Garden, Preshong’s Patch, Chickadee’s Patch, Garden of Olympians, Kitty, Zucchini Atoll, and The Butterbaugh Farm. 

It’s already been quite a busy season: 

  • In January, we had our Introductory Meeting to get everyone on board and set expectations for the program. We introduced ourselves, we heard what folks were most excited about, and learned about what to expect this season. 
  • In February, we had our Garden Planning meeting, led by our Anderson County Extension Agent, Seth Whitehouse. We also had an All Things Seeds! Workshop led by William Gwin, the Seed Catalog Coordinator for the Oak Ridge Public Library. I traveled to Berea for the All Hands Gathering, where I left feeling inspired and ready to play in the soil. It was a great opportunity to learn from experienced and knowledgeable speakers and partner sites. 
  • At our garden visits in February, we conducted soil tests and participants received a Hori Hori Knife that they used to collect their soil samples. This month our gardeners are picking up a bale of wheat straw for mulch at Willow Ridge, a local plant nursery and garden center. Last night our gardeners got onion sets, donated by Wilson Family Farm, one of our vendors at the Indoor Winter Farmers Market. 
  • We actually had our Garden Planting meeting last night, led by myself and Seth Whitehouse. We’ve got another workshop planned this month: All Things Composting! with Knox County Extension Agent, Neal Denton. 
  • Our gardeners are finishing up their warm season garden maps this week and receiving feedback from me sometime this month. 

We are so very thankful for all the support we have received from Grow Appalachia, other partner sites, the Y-12 Gives Foundation, the Oak Ridge Public Library, Willow Ridge, TN Naturescapes, Beardsley Community Farm, UT Extension, the Anderson County Master Gardeners, St. Mary’s Community Garden, and First Baptist and First Presbyterian Church. Just to name a few, this list will continue to grow. We are just so grateful for all this support to create an impactful program for our community. 

Spring is in the air. The crocus, daffodils, and forsythia are blooming. I’ve even seen a few bees buzzing around some flowers from bolted mixed greens. We are excited to plant and get growing this season!