EKY non-profit partnering with farmers to bring back produce after flood

WYMT Mountain News Weekend Edition newscast at 11 p.m. on Saturday
Published: Feb. 11, 2023 at 5:36 PM EST
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LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Non-profit Grow Appalachia is working with Eastern Kentucky farmers and gardeners in getting back on track after the July flood.

The flood destroyed years of hard work put in by local farmers.

“You know all my bees, boxes, everything, we watched it float by on the porch, you know, and that was something we’ve been doing for quite a while,” Jim McAuley, a flood survivor in Letcher County, said.

WYMT Mountain News Weekend Edition newscast at 6 p.m. on Saturday

Now they are regrouping and rebuilding with the help of Grow Appalachia.

“We think of it as a way to eliminate barriers to growing either your own food for your family or neighbors, and expanding that to support for those who are interested in market gardening also,” Cowan Community Center Executive Director Valerie Ison Horn said.

Barriers have increased since the flood. Soil samples are a high priority for plant health, along with other growing tactics.

“You also wanna take a water sample, so that water you’re using to irrigate your crops is also going into, like that water is going into your produce,” Cowan Grow Appalachia Coordinator Kelsey Cloonan said.

There is also fear that crops might drown in flood water again, so they are finding ways to adapt.

“I really want to work with our partners to think about possible ways for sustainable hillside growing possibly. Like some terrace. That’s a lot of work, and you have to be careful not to disrupt the structure integrity of the hill,” Kelsey Cloonan said.

While it has become increasingly complicated, farmers are still eager to find ways they can continue growing produce and feeding communities.