May has been a whirlwind for the gardening group at the Owsley County Farm to School program. This year, the spring pop up farmers market and the Planting A Garden workshop were coordinated as a joint venture where the Farm to School group was showcased as a part of the local farming community at the Owsley County Farmers Market. We had local farmers, community partners and the Farm To School participants all represented at the gathering.

We invited our community partners, Owsley County Extension FCS agent, Rosa Smith, and the Owsley County Health Department’s, Hannah Hogan, to attend the events with information about the services their respective agencies have to offer.

Our local FFA chapter has long been an active participant at the market with their plant sales and a part of the Grow Appalachia program here. Featured were the tomato plants they had grown in the green house with seeds purchased by Grow Appalachia for the program, along with plants and hanging baskets for Mothers Day. Our local FFA chapter and our new ag teacher has been learning to navigate the fluctuations in Kentucky’s spring temperatures when raising plants in a green house environment. Warmer than expected days taught valuable lessons and delayed some plans. Several of the FFA’s tomato plants found their way into the home gardens of our participating garden members. The kids from the FFA chapter were able to set up and sell their plants at the Owsley County Farmers Market spring pop up and get in some time volunteering at the market at the same time.

Adults and students alike attended the Farmers Market and stayed for the Garden Planting workshop featuring practical gardening tips and more technical information from our local extension office. At this workshop, our participants got plants and seeds for the foods they had wanted to feature in their gardens suitable for preparing foods daily as well as for canning, dehydrating, and fermenting classes planned for later in the summer. A surprising number of the ladies asked for herbs and we got as many as we could for assisting in heart healthy cooking recipes with ways to incorporate the herbs into a heart healthy diet adding flavor and health benefits.

Our garden chat group continues to be busy with pictures of gardens being planted, children learning to plant a garden with their families and information being shared as the plants go into the ground. Our bunch has had very successful lettuce and onion beds, been very resourceful with their garden beds and had great fun getting their gardens planted. The weather has been very cooperative, providing clouds to let the plants adjust to being outside, rain to water them well and the cool weather of Blackberry Winter allowed all of our gardeners to get their gardens started.