JOHNSON CITY — Grow Appalachia (Berea, KY) has awarded Build It Up East TN a $23K grant to recruit and train small scale gardeners to grow fresh produce for area markets in 2015.  According to Grow Appalachia, ‘family farming and gardening have become less popular and less profitable in Appalachia, limiting access to healthy, affordable food. Grow Appalachia seeks to solve pervasive food insecurity issues by restoring the relationship between the people and the land.’ The unprecedented demand for local and regionally identified foods continues to grow in northeast Tennessee and across the United States.

            Build it Up East TN is looking for 10 or more gardeners who are interested in producing high yield crops for sale at the Boone Street Market in Jonesborough, area Farmers’ Markets and Restaurants. All participants will be trained in using organic methods and season extension techniques. Business coaching will assist the gardeners in creating sustainable models that have the potential to add several hundreds of dollars per month of income from their efforts.

            Participants will need to have access to a 20’ by 25’ plot of land that gets a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day.  Larger plots are acceptable.  Lexy Close, project coordinator for Build It Up is holding an informational community meeting, January 31st @ 1:00 p.m. at the Willow Tree Coffeehouse, 216 East Main Street, Johnson City. According to Close, “if you are interested in being a participant, but do not own your own property, we encourage you to ask your landlord, your neighbors, church or civic group members if they have land available. There are a lot of people who would love a garden on their property, but don’t have time to cultivate it themselves.”

In alignment with Grow Appalachia, Build it Up East TN encourages applications from people receiving SNAP benefits, families with young children, and young people under the age of 30; however, anyone, regardless of their experience, who is interested in learning to grow their own food and to sell the extra is welcome to attend the informational session. Close states “if you have the appropriate space, this grant will provide you with soil analysis, tilling, tools, fertilizer, seeds, irrigation, and lots of support and training. Our goal is to help people get a leg up on starting their own small-scale market garden business.”
Build It Up was founded in 2012, with a mission to increase access to local food that is grown using sustainable, non-polluting methods. For more information about Build it Up, visit or contact Lexy Close at 423-946-1673.

Watch the news video from WCYB HERE

By Lexy Close