The strength of Grow Appalachia resides in our partnerships with existing community organizations throughout the region, many of which have served the area for generations. Currently, we disperse grants and provide technical assistance to 43 such partner sites in five states — Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia and Ohio. The goal is to support their unique, individual missions while also working with them to provide organic gardening techniques and supplies to their communities.
Each partner community organization varies in its original purpose, but each has the goal of fostering stronger families and community involvement in their areas of service. Only some of our partner sites focus solely on agriculture; others focus on social services or education. Each has their own area of expertise and, within that, select their clients and tailor their programs to fit the unique needs of their communities.
The diversity of our partnerships produces a variety of gardens for a variety of purposes. Some participants garden to save money. Others garden to make money. We have gardens ranging from small backyard gardens to a 2-acre mini-farm. The common goal is healthy, affordable food production. But to achieve this, gardens vary greatly from one community to the next. Partner sites can plant any combination of fruits and vegetables. The gardens can be maintained by individuals, families, and community groups of all shapes and sizes.
The success of Grow Appalachia depends on the hard work of the participants. We provide many of the basic inputs, but the physical labor is done entirely by our partners. Their harvests are directly related to how much work they are willing to do. The fact that our participants have grown more than 1.1 million pounds of food in our first four years highlights both the widespread need of the program and the willingness of families and communities to sustain it.