November 23, 2016
As I write this, garlic is taking root in beds at the new Dig In! Garden on Blakenship Creek Rd. in Yancey County. I confess that garlic is my favorite crop, but this was the year of the sweet potato. In June, volunteers tucked 400 slender plants into soil and in late October over 1400 pounds of the large tubers were unearthed by helping hands at one of our final Work Together days at the Bolens Creek garden. Today we will deliver the last of the sweet potatoes that have been curing at Mountain Heritage High School to the food pantry at Reconciliation House in Burnsville.
When I reflect on what it means to grow food together, the squiggly sweetpotato tells the story best. From the plants we purchased from local businesses, to the land leased to Dig In! by a family, to the volunteers who labored to plant and harvest, to our staff that hosted volunteers, tended the crop and delivered it, to the high school students and Ameri-Corp volunteers who helped us cure them, to the community partners who provide the sweetpotatoes to families –this is the power of growing a community garden.
Over 3,000 of our Yancey County neighbors do not have reliable access to sufficient and affordable quantities of food. When I deliver Dig In! crops to our Harvest Tables and local pantries I get the pleasure of a conversation with some of these folks about how they like to cook and eat the vegetables we grow. We talk about the weather and often the gardens that they tend or farms they grew with their families in years past. I leave those conversations being profusely thanked and blessed. How I wish in these moments you could hear the appreciation for the food we grow!
I will prepare the sweet potato casserole for our Thanksgiving meal this year. Though I know a plain sweet potato is best for my body, I’ll (very) generously apply the brown sugar, small marshmallows and butter to the orange flesh. It’s a treat my mom made for the holiday and my favorite part of a Thanksgiving meal. At Reconciliation House this week I spoke with a young mother who is living with friends because she is unable to afford rent on the wage she makes. She was thrilled to receive our bag of sweet potatoes and thanked me for being able to provide her little boys their favorite Thanksgiving treat. And so it is that I pass that message of gratefulness on to you. Each of you, from the beginning of the season to the time when the table is set, gives what you can. In doing so, we are gifts to each other.
Executive Director & Garden Manager