Well, it’s finally October. The leaves are exploding with color, the air is getting cooler, and no denying the year is quickly fading away. 2020 has, undoubtedly, been one for the history books for the chaos, trouble, and destruction it has left in its path, but amongst it all, we see signs of hope, prosperity, and growth. In a time, full of pandemonium, I have found peace, grasping at the little glimmers of goodness, and rejoicing in that, against all odds, our Foodways programming at Hindman Settlement School has continued on, making a difference.
Grow Appalachia, although delivered vastly different, was still successful in providing education and resources to 64 families in a time where food security was questioned by almost every American. As we faced grocery rationing in the stores, our families were planning, planting, and harvesting their gardens and in turn preparing, preserving, and sharing tons of food with neighbors and friends. 2020 urged our participants to grow more intensely than ever, resulting in our largest yield, over 30,000 pounds of produce was reported. Over 15 tons of food became available to our families and their networks through Grow Appalachia, that is a glimmer of goodness!!!
Moving into the market season, this year came with more uncertainty than most. Email updates came daily on the ever-moving regulations, worries flooded our minds in keeping our community healthy, and trainings moved to being online or socially distanced as we prepared to trudge ahead. The market opened, first as a drive thru and then regularly, and gained momentum with each passing week. Our market grew, and grew, and grew. Crunching numbers as the market ended, I found another glimmer of goodness. 2020 saw a 46% increase in total sales, and increase in vendors and producers, but the statistic that truly makes me smile is that we had over a $1500 increase in the amount of SNAP ran!!! Once again, our programs are helping put food on tables in our community.
Looking out today across the field at the mottled hillside against a blue sky, I cling to the glimmers of goodness and get excited about what is coming next. The ability to do work that effects people is the most rewarding, even with the chaos of 2020. Not lying, it has been rough, but I will remember it for how we adapted, re-invented, and persevered to continue to make a difference.