Monday, April 09, 2012

Grow Appalachia brings gardening back to region

Gardening was once a standard household task in Appalachia, but that has been eroded over many decades by the advent of a wage economy, declining payrolls in the coal industry, out-migration, the movement of women into the workforce, and the increasing prevalence of long commutes to work. A program called Grow Appalachia is trying to restore the knowledge, skills and benefits of gardening.

The three-year-old program teaches rural residents how to grow their own gardens, reports Megan Workman of The Charleston Gazette. The program is an outreach, educational and service project of Kentucky's Berea College. More than 200 families, or 700 people, have participated in the program across 14 counties in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia. Those families grew almost 130,000 pounds of food last year.
Neighbors helping neighbors is a hallmark of the program, Director David Cooke told Workman. Scott Butler (above) and his wife are among 20 families on Big Ugly Creek Road in West Virginia who are helping their neighbors learn the secrets of home gardening. Grow Appalachia provides all the tools needed, including seeds, fertilizer, soil testing kits and educational material. Participants also get to use community tillers and attend educational workshops.

Grow Appalachia workers hope to see several outcomes, including access to fresh food, decreasing health problems related to diet, and healthier cooking, Workman reports. Butler said gardening will also help people save money because what food isn't eaten can be frozen or canned, and it will help people be more active. (Read more)

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