ASD receives funds to support its beginning gardner program

Published 8:00 am Monday, January 16, 2023

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Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) has received $10,000 from the Clif Family Foundation to fund its beginning gardener education program called Grow Your Own. This free program aims to increase the number of people growing food in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia. Interested people who are aspiring home or market gardeners with little to no gardening experience, a willingness to learn and a desire to grow healthy food are encouraged to apply. For more information, email Morgan Bradley at:
ASD will work with 30 families in the 2023 season from February – November. Through a series of educational sessions, Grow Your Own participants will learn to grow their own fresh, healthy food in home-based backyard and market gardens. ASD will provide training, technical support, seeds, plants, tools and tilling services. To strengthen the local and regional food system, ASD will work with participants to accomplish three primary goals: to enroll in additional training or market access programs to scale up their skill set, to get a job at an existing farm or employer in the food supply chain, or to engage in agricultural entrepreneurialism by starting a farm, a social enterprise, or a food production business.
Many participants in ASD’s Grow Your Own program struggle with food equity, finding and affording fresh produce.  Promoting food sovereignty is critical to ASD’s commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion at ASD. In 2022, 20% of program participants identified as having a disability, 16% identified as retired, 16% identified as veterans, and 40% lived below the national poverty level. Living at or below the poverty line affects people’s ability to obtain fresh, healthy food.
“Our Grow Your Own program is the reason I moved halfway across the country. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work on an empowering program that addresses one of our most basic needs, such as food. Gardening provides a sense of accomplishment, delicious food and connects us to nature and people around us. Our growers inspire me every day with their commitment, passion and excitement” explains ASD Agriculture Education Program Manager, Morgan Bradley.
Families often share food they have grown with neighbors and some preserve their harvest for consumption in the winter months. Some families supplement their income by selling their excess vegetables at local farmers markets. Since 2012, participants in the Grow Your Own program have grown more than 145,000 pounds of food in this transformative program.

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