This year marks the beginning of a concerted effort on our part to make a truly productive family garden. Historically we have always grown tomatoes, some peppers, yellow squash, and zucchini. However, I feel we have forgotten our relationship with food over the course of a few generations. Specifically, the ebb and flow of the seasonal crops, the nature of soil, and the harmony and discord of our ecology. We felt it in our daily lives, a detachment of ourselves from the world around us, and we lost our ability to see the forest for the trees. 

We were introduced to the Build It Up program by our friends at the ARC&D and through the folks at the Natural Resources Conservation department in Jonesborough. Immediately upon learning about the Build It Up program we submitted our application. What could be better than a congregation of local gardeners brought together by their desire to improve the quality of the world around them? Build It Up’s collection of resources and information has been a critical source to the development of our garden. They have compiled information relevant to our region and provided a template for understanding and recording the true and possible capacity of ourselves to produce good, clean food for ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities.

While we are just beginning to enter summer, we are reeling at the prospect of harvesting our first heads of cabbage. While most of my neighbors have given up on the prospect of growing cabbages due to their inability to prevent it from going to seed too early, we are about to pull our first successful crop. Cabbage makes an excellent addition to any stew and I, myself, am looking forward to the prospect of some home-made sauerkraut! I doubt any of this would have been possible without great frustration, if it wasn’t for the Build It Up program.

Now, we hope to begin the long process to undo the damages of years of mono-cultured tobacco fields, heavily compacted soil, and erosion brought on by neglect and ignorance. Together with the knowledge and experience we have gained from Build It Up and through the community of farmers and gardeners that Build It Up has brought together, we hope to make a lasting, beneficial, impact on our land, our ecology, and our community!

Thank you, ARC&D, thank you Rosie, and thank you Build It Up!

– Tanner Blevins