Grow Food Where People Live: Harvest and Cultivation

This time last year, we began to nurture our first Microfarm at Ashley Meadows in Columbus, NC as part of the Grow Food Where People Live initiative launched in January 2015.

Grow Food Where People Live aims to improve the health, food security, and economic wellbeing of people in Western North Carolina, and is a joint initiative of Groundswell International, Polk County Agricultural Economic Development, Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry, and Growing Rural Opportunities (GRO).

Now, a year later, we get to see the actual fruit of our labor while simultaneously spreading our roots wider with new sites and new partner organizations.

Harvesting nanking cherries at Ashley Meadows in May 2016.

Harvesting nanking cherries at Ashley Meadows in May 2016.

Our pilot year was full of excitement as families learned to grow and preserve their own food.  This spring we gained four new gardeners, with a total of twelve families gardening on site, and the neighborhood has exploded with life!  The gardens are packed full of vegetable starts donated from Banner Greenhouses & Tryon Hardware and seeds from Sow True Seed.  Just yesterday we saw the European pears, blueberries and the muscadines from Useful Plants Nursery loaded up with fruit, and we were able to harvest 9 lbs of cherries from just the 6 bushes by the office!  It has been such a blessing to see the gardens and the gardeners grow together, and to see their learning  in action.

SPREADING OUR ROOTS…

Though the winter is usually a time for rest and rejuvenation from the growing season, we were actually quite busy!  After gaining a new partner, Thermal Belt Outreach Ministries, we spent the winter and early spring planning our next Microfarm and working to expand our program even deeper into the county.  We have some exciting stuff underway, and this spring we installed our second Microfarm at Thermal Belt Outreach Ministries.

SPRING 2016 PERMABLITZ

Despite a bit of rain and rescheduling we were able to install our second Microfarm over the series of three very hot and tiring days.  But, even with the heat and humidity we had over 45 folks come out to get their hands dirty and help tranform Outreach into a food producing wonderland.

Over the course of three days we….

  • Planted nearly 300 square feet of shared garden space with sweet potatoes, dill, okra, and field peas.
  • Planted 75 berry bushes and set up four trellis systems.
  • Built 30 raised beds planting over 20 different fruits and vegetables including squash, tomatoes, melons, okra, green beans, and of course…collards.
  • Installed over 300 ft. of irrigation to help keep the plants hydrated.
  • Planted over 75 june bearing and ever bearing strawberries in a patch by the muscadine grape vines

Outreach is now  able to source fresh fruits and vegetables on site, in addition to offering classes on growing, cooking, and preserving food to their clients and others in the community.  We have fresh curriculum and a stove on site at Ashley Meadows to scale up our classes and get residents excited about growing and eating fresh fruits and vegetables too.

This 6,000 square foot space was cover cropped over the winter. This is after the cover crop was tilled in.

This 6,000 square foot space was cover cropped over the winter. This is after the cover crop was tilled in.

 

We were finally able to till after days of down pouring rain. It turned out to be a beautiful day.

We were finally able to till after days of down pouring rain. It turned out to be a beautiful day.

 

Outreach Garden Planting

A volunteer watering the plants and seeds donated by Banner Greenhouses and Sow True Seed.

 

GET INVOLVED

This summer we will be offering volunteer workdays at the Thermal Belt Outreach Site on the following dates from 9:30am-12:00pm.

  • Saturday, July 9th
  • Saturday, August 13th
  • Saturday, September 10th

Space is limited, so please email me at sydney@growfoodwherepeopelive.org if you would like to join us on one of these days. Volunteers will receive a stainless steel water bottle and Grow Food Where People Live t-shirt while supplies last.

We hope you will continue to follow us and even take part in Grow Food Where People Live!

Until next time….

 

Sydney Klein

Program Coordinator

Grow Food Where People Live

syd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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