Love for good food, love for the Earth we grow it in, and love for the communities we share it with, can only lead to one thing—more love. At Grow Appalachia, that love is initiated in the grants we give out to partner sites, is passed on in the workshops and resources the partner sites share in their communities, and is returned in the blogs, stories, and statistics we receive about our 3,767 participant gardeners across Central Appalachia. Sometimes, that love shows up in especially sweet ways, and we’d like to share one of those Grow Appalachia love stories with you!
Della & Charles
When we interviewed this couple at Pine Mountain Settlement School the day before Thanksgiving 2016, they introduced themselves as “I’m Della, Charles’ wife” and “I’m Charles, Della’s husband”. We could tell right from the start that we were going to witness something truly beautiful. Throughout the interview, Charles often praised Della for her experience raising a family and supporting herself by gardening her whole life. Della and Charles have only been married three, going on four, years, so to hear him acknowledge and respect her life before he was really in it was something special.
Both Della and Charles gardened before joining Grow Appalachia, but mentioned how the knowledge they gained from the Grow Appalachia workshops has made their new, post-retirement shared garden thrive. Talking about their garden, Della said, “We’re really at the stage of our life where we can play at what we like to do—what we used to have to work at—now we just enjoy playing at it.”
The couple grew green beans, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, kale, sugar snap peas, onions, and other vegetables in their garden last year. They talked about wanting to get chickens next year. According to Charles, “We’ve got the jar picked out, and a place on the shelf picked out. When we get our first egg, we’re going to pickle it, we’re going to keep it, and put it up there as ‘our first egg’.”
As the interview progressed, they finished each other’s sentences, they picked on each other playfully, told stories, and laughed, a lot, together. The love and respect they share for each other was made obvious in their words and interactions. “We get along great,” Charles said. “We intend to advocate to her grandkids and other people that we know to participate in this Grow Appalachia program. They can really supplement their income with this. I think that’s kind of what Grow Appalachia is for, helping this area by doing stuff like that, and we intend to advocate it. But for us, it’s just a lot of fun.” To Della, “it’s just absolute fun.”
Grow Appalachia is a community garden-based food security program, headquartered at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. Since 2010, Grow Appalachia has worked with more than 4,375 families that have harvested 2,957,740 pounds of food. This year, Grow Appalachia is working with 32 partner sites in six central Appalachian states. Grow Appalachia seeks to help as many Appalachian families grow as much of their own food as possible.
-Story contributed by Alix Burke, Grow Appalachia Communications and Foodlorist VISTA volunteer.