Carter County families sought after for Build It Up

Published 9:01 am Thursday, January 5, 2017

Photo Contributed  Along with learning the proper tools of creating a garden, Build It Up also allows families to work together in growing crops.

Photo Contributed
Along with learning the proper tools of creating a garden, Build It Up also allows families to work together in growing crops.

County residents are encouraged to turn over a new “leaf” for 2017.
Build It Up East Tennessee, which is sponsored through the Appalachian RC&D Council, is accepting applications for the third year of the “Backyard Gardens” program, but this year’s program will feature more of a Carter County flare.
2017 will feature 45 families, including some families returning for 2016 for a second consecutive year serving Carter, Washington and Unicoi counties. An addition this year includes 15 spots reserved for Carter County residents, thanks in part to a partnership with the Carter County Community Advisory Board.
“This is our third year of the program,” Program Coordinator Lexy Close said. “The goal is to teach people to become more food secure through gardening. Anyone from the community is welcome to apply, though we will prioritize lower-income families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to start gardening.”
Applications are being accepted for individuals, with no previous gardening experience required. The online application can be found at Applications for the program will be accepted through Tuesday, Jan. 31. Experienced gardens are also welcomed to apply as a “Market Gardener” and grow food for sale at local markets. Beginning gardeners will be giving an option to sell extra produce, Close said, but the main focus will be on gaining new skills and using fresh produce at home.
“Gardening isn’t easy,” she said. “It’s fun and very rewarding, but it requires a lot of work, and we want to state that right up front.”
Build It Up is funded through Grow Appalachia, a foundation based out of Berea, KY. Participants will receive multiple resources including plants, seeds, fertilizer, a hoe and hand trowel, organix pest and disease control supplies, season extension materials and help with tilling new gardens. Close added that applicants need to have access to land for a garden, but do not need to actually own the land used, as long as permission is granted by whoever owns the land. Gardens must also be within the three stated counties.
“If you don’t own property, you can talk with your landlord, neighbors, family, friends or contact an area community garden to find a suitable space,” Close said. “Build It Up is willing to help connect participants with land, so even if you don’t currently have access, please feel free to apply.”
The proof is in the work by Build It Up. During 2016, Build It Up worked with 25 families in four counties and have collectively growing over 80,000 pounds of food as of September.
The program is all about education, Close reiterated. Participants must complete a series of six workshops, which include planning a garden, planting a garden, maintaining a garden, preserving the harvest, healthy cooking and fall gardening.”
“Workshops are where we will check in with all participants, troubleshoot issues, teach you valuable skills and hand out all materials,” Close added. Along with the workshops, participants are asked to submit stories of their progress to Build It Up’s online blog.
The idea of utilizing Build It Up has been heavily discussed during previous CAB meeting, especially with the organization looking to install a farmer’s market within the city limits in the future.
Build It Up is hosting a community meeting for individuals wanting to know more about the program on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.
For more information on Build It Up, visit or contact close via email at or call (423) 979-2581.

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