Spring is in the air on Troublesome Creek and folks are itching to get ground turned, feel the moist soil on their hands, and see sprouts emerge. After a trying and tiring 2020, I am grateful this spring for bringing a sense of renewal and hope, and with that comes opportunity; the opportunity to make a difference, spread goodwill, and plow new ground.
Hindman Settlement School is no stranger in creating opportunity in the mountains, it has been ingrained into our existence since the school’s humble beginnings. In 2020, while navigating the ever-changing norms of the pandemic, we saw our dyslexia program morph into a regional resource spreading our dyslexia work into school systems in Knott, Perry, and Leslie County. The growth was inspiring and posed the thought in my head, how can our food work expand and “plow new ground?” It didn’t take long to dream up a plan to expand Grow Appalachia by offering the program in a small, rural community of Perry County, one of the first communities we offered our expanded dyslexia program.
After a few phone calls, a tweak or two to a grant application, and lots of hope, we received approval to have a subsite in Perry County to offer Grow Appalachia to 20 families. Work began planning and preparing for the 2021 Grow Appalachia Season and applications started flying in. We enrolled 25 new families in Perry County and 65 families in Knott quickly and started off Grow App season, as it is kindly called in February, with a full slate of classes, distributions, and trainings.
It is amazing to see the individual impact of this program, hear the excitement of a first-time gardener picking that first cucumber, that seasoned grower proudly sharing the amount of food preserved, and just seeing the appreciation on their faces as we meet. Grow App is a transformative program and it’s exciting that we are plowing new ground and expanding our clients.