We weathered through January and February’s cold temperatures, but they brought plenty of activities for farmers and foodways enthusiasts across our region.  This season stands out as the easiest and perhaps the only time of the year when farmers and foodways folks can be drawn away from their farms and gardens.

In January, I had the privilege of attending the Fruits and Vegetable Conference in Bowling Green. This gathering served as a vibrant hub, bringing together approximately 600 individuals, including farmers, resource providers, and supporters alike. The conference offered a diverse range of educational tracks, letting attendees delve into topics related to their interests and needs.

Come February 8th and 9th, it was time for the Grow Appalachia All Hands Gathering in Berea. This gathering served as a pivotal moment for site coordinators to convene, setting the stage for an agenda with introductions, breakout sessions, and regional group support and troubleshooting.  Departing from Berea, I felt a renewed sense of confidence in the year ahead for our Grow Appalachia community.

On February 16th and 17th, the East Kentucky Farmers Conference in Morehead welcomed four Knott County Grow Appalachia participants. It was truly inspiring to see our local farmers deeply engaged in expanding their farms and backing initiatives like the Knott County Farmers Market. This conference featured a dedicated track focused on farming resources, providing us with valuable insights and materials to bring back to our program in Hindman. As a bonus, I was able to have a good discussion about a seed saving library with Bill Best!

As I reflect on the wonderful gatherings these past few months, I am struck by the interconnectedness of our endeavors. From Bowling Green to Berea, each conference and gathering was full of  learning and fueling our efforts to cultivate a vibrant food system. With solidarity and determination, we can uplift our communities, and continue to celebrate foodways.