PRESTONSBURG – The seventh annual Growing Appalachia: Small Scale Farming and Energy Solution Workshops conference was held at the Jenny Wiley Convention Center on Saturday. The purpose of the conference was to provide promising sustainable ideas people can use to save or earn money or even start a small business.
The conference was planned by local member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) and was co-sponsored by Community Farm Alliance, the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), Grow Appalachia Cowan Community Center, the Floyd County Farmer’s Market, Appalachian Roots, and St. Vincent Mission. The Big Sandy Chapter of KFTC includes Floyd, Pike, Johnson, Martin and Magoffin counties. Other area chapters are located in Letcher, Perry and Harlan counties.
“We own about nine head of cattle. We don’t raise cattle to sale, what we raise provides our family with food throughout the year. Meat is very expensive in today’s market. Raising cattle is something we enjoy and it also enables us to save money on our grocery bill,” said Carolyn and Millard Blanton, of Jacks Creek.
The workshops began around 10 a.m. and included topics such as: Growing berries and brambles, Industrial hemp, Sustainable timber and forest management, So you want to grow a vegetable garden, selling your arts and crafts on Etsy, A seat at the Table: Energy and Just Transition in Eastern Kentucky, Food hubs, and , Getting started with backyard chickens. The workshops enabled individuals interested in the various topics a single place to go to learn about various aspects of green living.
Jesse Herzog, originally from Iowa, and Kristen Houser, originally from Louisville, now call Menifee County home because of their desire to live green. Buying six acres of land in Menifee County enabled them to start living environmentally conscious.
“We wanted the opportunity to grow our own vegetables and medicinal herbs. We found a great deal on land in Menifee County and we grabbed it. It was a huge transition moving from the city to such a rural location, but it was a transition were ready for and excited about,” said Houser.
Tammy Ball of Big Sandy Community and Technical College was also on hand to attend workshops.
“We have a small garden on the BSCTC campus where we raise fruits and vegetables to give back to the community,” said Ball. “Everything we produce in the campus garden is donated to a local food pantry.”
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) is a grassroots social justice organization with more than 10,000 members statewide. The Big Sandy chapter meets on the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the KFTC office in Prestonsburg located at 152 North Lake Drive. For more information contact Jessie Skaggs at 606-263-4982.
If you are interested in becoming a vendor and growing crops to sell at the local Floyd County Farmer’s Market or you just want to buy fresh fruit and vegetables visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Floydcfmarket for details.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for the Floyd County Times. She can be reached at 606-794-0290.