Growing Appalachia 2015 | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Growing Appalachia 2015

Bev May

Growing Appalachia is a day of workshops about small-scale farming, energy efficiency and renewables sponsored by the Big Sandy chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. This year's conference will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday March 21, 2015 at the Jenny Wiley Convention Center near Prestonsburg. We hope people attending can gain some practical skills and knowledge so that they can find ways to stay and thrive in the mountains by making their own jobs or saving money through small-scale farming, energy efficiency, and renewables.

To find out more about the history of the conference or to read about previous years, visit the Growing Appalachia page on our website. You can also check out this article from the Community Farm Alliance Breaking Beans Project for an interview with Beverly May, one of the founding members of the conference.

If you’re interested in getting involved with conference, we would love to hear from you! Contact Jessie Skaggs at 606-263-4982 or send her an email.

Fill out the form at the bottom of this page to register to attend!

Conference schedule:

NOTE: Workshops are organized into three tracks:

  • Home Gardening and Production Methods, which are geared towards folks that are working at the home/small garden scale

  • Small Farms and Businesses, which are for folks who are looking to scale up – or already have – from their home/small garden, or to start a small business

  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EE/RE), which are energy related

You do not have to pick one track and stay with it all day –  although you’re welcome to! – but we encourage you to pick and choose workshops that would be interesting or valuable to you.

9:00 a.m.

Registration opens

9:30 a.m.

Opening session

  • Welcome, introductions, and acknowledgments

  • Review our purpose and agenda

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

First round of workshops (choose one)


Home Gardening and Production Methods Track

Beginning Beekeeping (Steve Buckley) – This workshop is for folks with no previous experience. Steve will cover the important role beekeeping plays in ensuring crop diversity. Then you'll learn the basics: where to find bees and supplies, maintaining a healthy hive, and harvesting honey. If you've ever considered keeping a hive or two, this workshop will get you off to a good start!


Small Farms and Businesses

The Cooperative Model (Jonathan Hootman) – Are you interested in learning more about cooperatives and what they can do in Kentucky? Then come out to this workshop to learn about the different types of cooperatives, how they work, and hear from a worker-owner of a new worker-cooperative record store in Whitesburg, KY.


Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Track

Greening Our Schools (Brett Schraeder and Lane Carr, Letcher County High School; Traci Tackett, Pikeville Independent School District; Don Sergent, Warren County Schools; Moderated by: Valerie Horn) – Are you interested in ways our local schools can create hands-on opportunities for students to learn about growing and eating healthy food, using energy efficiently, and generating energy from renewable sources? This workshop will feature three examples from Kentucky schools that are leading the way. We’ll hear from two eastern Kentucky schools that have created school gardens, and from a school in Bowling Green, Kentucky that is using energy efficiently and generating its own solar energy. We’ll explore how educators are turning these projects into opportunities for students learn about science, problem-solving, and leadership. And we’ll discuss lessons learned that could be applied to other schools. We especially encourage students and educators to join us for this conversation, but everyone is welcome. We hope many workshop participants will also share stories from your own schools!

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Second round of workshops (choose one)


Home Gardening and Production Methods Track

Planning Your Home Garden (Maggie Bowling) – Some of the most important garden work happens on paper before a single seed is even planted. Learn how to make a basic garden plan for a successful growing season, including how to decide what  to plant in the garden, how much to plant for your family size,and how to plan for and practice succession planting for a continuous harvest. Maggie Bowling, a vegetable farmer and former Grow Appalachia program coordinator will show you how to use all of this information to create a garden map and planting schedule. A well thought out garden plan and basic record keeping can lead to seasons of productive gardening!


Small Farms and Businesses

Finding Your Market (Sara Fannin of Fannin Vegetables; Todd Howard of HF Farms; and Don Maggard of the Letcher County Farmer's Market) This session will convene a group of experienced farmers to pass along their knowledge of marketing farm products in eastern Kentucky. Learn directly from these producers about the forms of marketing that have worked in our region – farmer’s markets, direct sales to restaurants, Community Supported Agriculture, Certified Roadside Stands, and more!


Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Track

DIY Energy Efficiency (Chris Woolery, MACED) – Chris will explain some practical DIY tips on improving your home energy efficiency. The focus of the session will be step-by-step instruction on what you can easily do yourself, what local programs are available for assistance, and knowing when to call in the professionals. Please join us and invest in your home to lower energy consumption and save money!

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Lunch. Keynote address from Bill Best.

Bill Best, known for his work with heirloom fruits and vegetables at the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center near Berea, will talk about the history of seed saving in the mountains, from the time Native Americans shared their seeds with the new settlers to the time when most settlers in the mountains were completely independent food wise. He will also discuss how seed saving nearly died out in many areas as many counties moved from a time of surplus foods sold outside the region to a time of food scarcity and food deserts. Bill will also share his vision for the region and the role quality heirloom fruits and vegetables can play in making mountain agriculture sustainable.

2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Third round of workshops (choose one)


Home Gardening and Production Methods Track

Soil Building and Nutrient Management (Mark Walden) – In this short course we will discuss the importance of detailed soil test - including organic matter content, available nitrogen, and PH factors. The course will discuss selection of cover crop mixes to increase organic matter in the soil, to improve depth and tilth of the soil, and cover crop selections that promote diverse microbial activity. Also, a description of the different cover crop species, their function and their impact on soil and plant health. This course will briefly discuss no-till options for organic systems – where no-till works and the challenges involved in adjusting mindsets to new production practices.


Small Farms and Businesses

Seed Saving (Bill Best) – Come learn from Bill Best, director of the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center near Berea, about the history of seed saving in Appalachia and, demonstrating with seeds he has, how it is done and why.


Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Track

Growing our own clean energy future in the mountains: what’s possible and what’s needed? (Lisa Abbott, Chris Woolery, Josh Bills) – Eastern Kentucky and the nation as a whole are in the midst of an energy transformation that will affect many things about how we live and work, as well as how we generate and pay for electricity. Please join us for a conversation about how we can begin to shape our own clean energy future here in the mountains. What would it take for more homes and businesses to be able to generate and store our own electricity from renewable sources? How can we support and grow more local clean energy entrepreneurs? What interesting projects and ideas can we learn from that could work well here? What are some challenges and roadblocks, and what’s needed to move things in a positive direction? Please bring your ideas and questions and help shape this conversation.

4:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Wrap up and networking




This event is made possible through the hard work of local KFTC volunteers and staff and financial support from Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Community Farm Alliance, MACED, Grow Appalachia, the Floyd County Farmer's Market, and HF Farms.

March 21, 2015 - 9:00am to 4:30pm
Event Organizer: 
Jessie Skaggs
Contact Email: 
Event Venue: 
Jenny Wiley Conference Center
Event Location: 
75 Theatre Court
Prestonsburg, KY 41653