They say that adversity makes you stronger because it makes you adapt and find what you are capable of doing. If this is true, then I would say that gardening this year has taught us a few lessons. What we have lacked in numbers, we made up for in consistent energy and effort.
The failed well attempt in early spring left us with a drainage problem and forced us to delay our initial plantings. An extremely wet spring further extended the delays, and wet soil resulted in rotting squash and cucumbers, beetles and disease that caused wilt, and corn smut.
The changes in the wooded areas surrounding the garden left woodland critters looking for new homes, and our garden proved to be quite popular. In case you have wondered, YES, ground hogs do eat cabbage! They ravaged our cabbage, and we had very little cabbage to give to the pantry. On the positive side, no ground hogs went hungry! Oh, by the way, ground hogs like sweet potato vines too!
All these challenges affected our yield of produce. But we have fought back with second crops of squash, cucumbers, corn, cabbage and pumpkins.
We are still harvesting second crops and have 1200 sweet potato plants yet to harvest in mid-October. Our Forge Mill garden partners will also be harvesting their sweet potatoes soon. This will add large numbers to our final total which currently is around 3,000 lbs. When the harvest is finally over, we will till the soil and add compost according to any requirements revealed by soil testing. For those of you not familiar, we provide a garden layout each year to NRCS and comply with its rotation requirements as part of our organic gardening plan. We are working on ways to address some of this year’s challenges as we plan our crop placement for 2018.
I am grateful for those volunteers who managed to work a day or a few days in the garden this year, but I am extremely proud of a very few dedicated volunteers who man- aged to persevere through the garden challenges this summer. Their positive attitudes, sheer determination and stubbornness to admit defeat kept the garden growing in spite of the obstacles.
Some may consider this a failed year but I consider it a success because we were challenged beyond our knowledge and often beyond our physical ability. Yet we pressed on, studied, researched and experimented in order to adapt. We did our best in spite of the conditions. We learned so much! A constant reminder of WHY we do what we do and WHY we have a garden has been our focus. We showed up three days a week at the garden to work harder than ever for six months. That is commendable! Produce was taken to the food pantry 2-3 times per week.
This level of commitment is such a great example to the community as well as tourists who see us working as they pass by on the train. We hosted the FFA volunteers when they came to work in the garden, and we look forward to working with our new neighbors even more in the future.
Bravo to ALL the garden volunteers! You are the greatest group of friends and the hardest working people with the biggest hearts! A harvest celebration in honor of all volunteers is being planned for late October following the harvest.
Time will tell how the sweet potato harvest will impact our produce totals this year.
Thank you to Feed Fannin members, friends, and partners such as Faith Presbyterian and their Forge Mill Garden and Cherry Log Christian Church garden and Jim and Meredith Yacavone for their produce contributions. I would invite all of you to plan now to plant a few rows, a raised bed or a few containers next year on behalf of Feed Fannin for donation to Family Connection Food Pantry.
Thank you to everyone who offered encouragement and moral support. We hope to see YOU at the harvest celebration and in the garden in 2018.
Submitted by Kathy Beck