Here in Eastern Kentucky we have a tradition of growing our own food, and that is never more apparent than this time of year as plots are being turned and seed sewn into the fertile soil. And while gardening might not be as prevalent as it once was, it is encouraging to us that an organization has begun placing an emphasis on growing food locally.
In February we reported on a new initiative begun at Lotts Creek Community School through a grant from Grow Appalachia. Essentially, the program will help local residents grow their own food, with the main goal of building local capacity for gardening.
Several studies have noted the benefits of gardening, from decreasing stress to providing physical activity, something many of us are lacking these days. But the most important aspect we can think of is the increased access to food, and especially healthy food choices.
We often take for granted where our food comes from. According to the Kentucky Association of Food Banks, however, 20 percent of Kentuckians cannot afford to buy enough food to stave off hunger, with that rate a tad higher specifically here in Eastern Kentucky.
Gardening offers, so to speak, a cheaper alternative to the cheaper alternative of unhealthy junk food filled with calories, sodium, and sugar. It also provides a sustainable food source from year to year. And as we reported on February, what can be healthier than something grown in your back yard?
Local residents will begin benefiting from this grow local program this year, and the Pathfinders of Perry County recently placed two gardening boxes next to Hazard’s Main Street. We are hopeful that more people will turn to growing their own food, and we would even like to see more instances of community gardening in Perry County.
The pros certainly outweigh the cons, in our view, and in cases like these boxes on Main Street, the community stands to benefit.
— The Hazard Herald