The wait is over. Spring has arrived here at the Owsley County Farm To School Gardening Program. The dogwoods are blooming, the crappie are running and the fields are plowed, planting has begun, and excitement abounds. It has been said that perusing seed catalogs is somewhat like looking at the Christmas Wish Book Catalog as a child.

Garden Planning
We had a record crowd sign up for our program, forty-five eager participants, for our Garden Planning Workshop, hosted by our Ag Agent, Paul Sizemore, at the Owsley County Extension Office. Our participants learned about selecting garden locations, ground prep and garden layouts so they could go home and begin ground prep for their gardens. During this time we also had our participants pick out the seeds, plants, and herbs they were interested in growing and eating, what food preservation methods they are interested in learning, and got everyone signed in to a chat group to make announcements, ask and answer questions, and make updates easier for everyone. The group has been very active chatting with each other, and our more experienced gardeners are answering lots of questions.

Our Group
Our participants are a very diverse group this year, from total newbies at gardening to lifelong gardeners, young high school students, young families, retired families and those with interests in container garden, plots at the community gardens at school, small plots to large multiple family gardens. Our local FFA chapter was well represented by youth and our new agricultural teacher, Ms. Shelbi Taylor. FFA will be planting tomato seeds in the school greenhouse and supplying tomato plants for our program as well as selling the plants to the community to raise money for the FFA program. Several of our participants are planning on selling some of their excess veggies at our local farmers market and have attended the required market trainings.

Mini Project
Our first mini project was a favorite springtime Appalachian delicacy, lettuce and onions also a bit of a season extender. We learned how to make a small project from a bucket, a box, even a bag of potting soil to have early lettuce and onions. All participants got enough lettuce seeds and onions for the early project with enough left for planting in their gardens now and in the fall, along with learning how to store any excess to make them last until fall planting.

April Happenings
Our participants are eagerly prepping their gardens – big and small – seeing their mini projects flourish, chatting in our group, asking questions, learning from and encouraging each other. Pictures are coming in of their progress in their individual gardens and some are featured in the blog. Our next meeting will be in early May in conjunction with the Owsley County Farmers Market May pop up market where we will do our Planting A Garden workshop with our local extension agent and the attending workshop participants will get seeds and plants.