Growing Appalachia 2013

Chris Woolery

The fourth annual Growing Appalachia featured a day of workshops and conversations about small-scale farming, sustainable forestry, and clean energy solutions that can benefit the land and people in eastern Kentucky.

Prior to the conference, KFTC members Fern Nafziger, and Cody Montgomery visited WMMT’s Mountain Talk to get the word out about the conference. Listen to the show here.

In August 2013, members of the Big Sandy chapter and Rowan County chapter organized a follow-up workshop to Cody Montgomery’s Collecting and marketing wild edibles and medicinals. You can read about it on our blog or check out photos from the workshop.

List of workshops

Enhance your bottom line through season extension – Paul and Allison Wiediger from Au Naturel Farms – The explosion in interest in local foods has provided a great opportunity for farmers.  Join us as we explore row covers and cold frames to low tunnels and high tunnels and how they can help a farmer meet the demands of the local food movement.

Collecting and marketing wild edibles and medicinals – Cody Montgomery – This workshop will focus on the history, identification, harvesting, and marketing of native and naturalized edible and medicinal herbs. Participants will learn about a number of species located in our area, as well as how to locate specific habitats for various plants.  In addition to harvesting practices you will learn about specific uses for herbs, and how to prepare certain plants for personal use. This will include making salves, tinctures, etc., and recipes for the kitchen table. We will also discuss local, national, and global markets, as well as cropping systems that can be used in the forests around your home. Also, we will talk about utilizing native plants for home landscaping. If you are interested in raising plants like ginseng for extra income, providing your own medicine, or just want to gain a better understanding of our wonderful land this workshop is for you.

Renewable Energy in the Mountains: Examples and Possibilities – Nathan Hall – Solar panels, micro hydro turbines, wood chip gasifiers; what do these all have in common? They are potential tools for economic development and self-reliance in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky and elsewhere. This workshop will explore specific ways to use these technologies in hollers and hilltops where innovative thinking is a necessity. Examples from other regions of the U.S. and abroad will be used to illustrate how other people have made renewables work for them, and potential business opportunities for Eastern Kentucky will be highlighted and explained.

You Can Can! – Beverly May – This is an introduction to simple and safe food preservation for folks with no or little experience.  Bev will cover open canning processing of high-acid foods such as tomatoes and jams step-by-step and the basics of pressure canning and freezing garden vegetables.  Opportunities for selling home-canned products at farmer's markets through the Kentucky Microprocessor program will also be discussed. The session will end with sharing favorite recipes and a jam tasting.

Community Supported Agriculture: Selling Meats and Vegetables through Shares – Will Bowling, Tiffany Thompson, and Brenda Cockerham – The term "CSA" is becoming more and more common, though it is still unknown to most mainstream markets. The concept of selling "farm shares" will be explored in this workshop. A year-round vegetable CSA program in Lexington, a family-owned sustainable meat CSA in Clay County, and a farmer's market based CSA provide excellent examples of how selling shares can be a secure and profitable way to produce an income from small-scale farming in Appalachia.

DIY Energy Efficiency – Chris Woolery and Fern Nafziger – Back by popular demand, Chris and Fern will explain some practical DIY tips on improving your home energy efficiency. The focus of the session will be step-by-step instruction on what you can easily do yourself, what local programs are available for assistance, and knowing when to call in the professionals.  Please join us and invest in your home to lower energy consumption and save money!

Beginning Organic Gardening – Todd Howard and Maggie Ashmore – Through this workshop, participants will be shown ways to plan for a successful organic growing season, and learn the key techniques to increase soil fertility and control pests, diseases, and weeds without using synthetic chemicals.  We will also explore the challenges and successes of real farmers attempting to transition to organic agriculture in eastern Kentucky.

Small Scale Dairy Production – People have been producing dairy products from goat and sheep milk for thousands of years, and now there is a large and growing demand for high-value cheeses, lotions, and other products made from these small livestock. Two Kentucky small business owners will present their stories, with discussion of breeds, rearing techniques, dairy equipment, and more. Both of these producers are successfully marketing their cheeses in large retail outlets and often find that there is more demand than supply.

Stories and examples from Kentuckians who have built affordable, low-energy homes – Susanna Lein, Josh May, and Jim Riddick – In this workshop we’ll learn from several Kentuckians about low-cost homes that don’t use a lot of energy and rely on renewable energy for some or all of their needs. We’ll learn about different approaches to designing and building low-cost and low-energy homes in eastern Kentucky. Bring your own examples to share, and of course your questions!