The past month has been a whirlwind here at Lend-A-Hand. Our Grow Appalachia program is really gearing up. We had two informational meetings on February 22nd and March 1st. We have about 20 participants signed up for the program that are putting out home gardens. We have participants ranging from seasoned gardeners to beginners. I can already tell that relationships are forming, stories are being told, and people are getting excited about getting out in the garden this year.
Ready for the informational meeting in the chapel.
In addition to working with home gardeners and having some gardens here at Lend-A-Hand, our program is working with 3 community gardens here in Knox County, Kentucky. There will gardens at the Knox County Jail, Dewitt Elementary School, and Union College. Many groups are coming together to work on the project and several businesses and individuals are donating materials to help with the project.
I attended the Grow Appalachia meeting at Berea in March which was a great experience. It was great getting to know others who are working on the program and learning from them. Wayne Riley at the Laurel County African American Heritage Center has been a big help to me during these first few months. I also got a chance to visit Greenhouse 17 and check out their high tunnels and program.
Much of March was taking soil samples and measuring plots. It is so interesting how different the dirt is up and down the Creek. Families have been eager to see what their samples have turned up.
Ordering the Grillo tiller has also been a fun experience. It is a hoss, but I’ve been successful getting it on and off my truck and using it on the side of a mountain so I’m confident that it will be a real asset to the program. I’ve also met some great people through ordering other tools and seedlings. The people at Earth Tools are great and I’m working with a couple of local greenhouses and the high school’s greenhouse to source plants for the program locally.
We had our first workshop on March 10 at the Knox County Agricultural Extension office which was very well attended. We went over planning a garden and participants started making garden layouts.
We are still working on some liability issues with the community garden. The moral of the story is to know what kind of insurance you have and the full range of coverage you have. This is something I had not thought about when starting the program.
We are getting a little late start on getting early plants out. The recent rain set us back a bit, but my gardeners are eager for the coming season.