In its first year, Grow Appalachia helped 96 families create garden plots.
In addition to the individual garden plots, communal gardens were created at four partner sites in Eastern Kentucky. Grow Appalachia staff, employees of the partner programs, and community volunteers maintained these gardens. Staff then distributed the produce grown in these communal plots to needy members of the community. Additionally, each site offered a series of classes on growing and preserving, classes taught mostly by county extension agents.
Several area schools and daycares planted gardens and maintained them through the summer. Produce was sent home with the children and/or harvested and distributed by school personnel. At an elderly housing complex, six of eight residents planted and harvested six small garden plots that provided food and helped supplement their fixed incomes. Finally, 20 residents at a residential substance abuse rehabilitation facility grew a large garden with Grow Appalachia’s assistance.
There was a total between 300–400 people who received assistance by growing gardens, attending heart-healthy cooking classes, or learning food preservation techniques and at least 2,800 people received some amount of fresh produce from Grow Appalachia gardens.
Grow Appalachia gardens raised nearly 120,000 pounds of fresh produce, and the cost of the vegetables raised was $1.25 a pound.
On a more personal level, Grow Appalachia did more than just provide food for people, the program provided work. One woman, who, along with her husband, was unemployed, shared, “We can’t find work that pays money, so we turned Grow Appalachia into our job.” This couple and their children worked their garden in Laurel County for six to eight hours a day, until brutally hot weather drove them inside in late July. But they fed their family all summer, and they canned, dried, and froze more than 400 containers of beans, tomatoes, corn, and pickles. Their fall garden produced well and further set them up for the winter. Without Grow Appalachia, many families similar to this one would not have food or money.