We have had a full Fall season here on the
farm with lots of activity and also some heartache. I lost my 92
year-old Dad at the end of September and spent some time back in
California with my Mom. The sadness was tempered with the joy of
visiting with family and the knowledge that a very full life had been
lived. When I returned we did a major task that we spent three years
planning and saving for; we re-roofed our gym building (my barn now.)
It is wonderful to have the amount of space we enjoy with this place,
but when there is a project it is always large! Another major project
was the installation of an underground waste-water system for our main
building. We can now abandon the large wastewater treatment pond that
has been both expensive and time consuming to maintain. We enjoyed an
unusually mild Fall and the crops have done very well. We are still
harvesting a lot of rich, green goodness. Helping hands from our
neighbors and my cousin visiting from Washington State have made the
time go by pleasantly. Mom also came for a few weeks in October and
helped with our last training session.
We hosted another group of students for an afternoon this
year from the West Virginia University Rural Immersion Program. These
are people headed into the medical profession that spend a week in our
county learning about the needs and resources in rural areas. We were
able to share with them our perspective that healthy people begin with a
healthy diet that begins with healthy soil. After we talked for a few
hours the group helped us harvest some potatoes and were rewarded with
one of Lynnita's fabulous plant-based meals.
Another project we will be taking on in 2007 is in association with "Grow Appalachia," a community oriented education project sponsored in part by Berea College in Kentucky..
Although we share the name "Berea" we are independent of each other
except for the selection of the name. (If you are curious about that
you can find the source of the name in the Book of Acts in Chapter 17
v.10,11) The project involves providing education, tools and seeds for
families to begin home gardening. I will be mentoring an Americorps VISTA
worker and providing community training for a five county area in our
region. The objective is to improve health and economic opportunity.
We will also encourage participating families to grow enough for
themselves and to sell their surplus produce in area farmer's markets
and other outlets, such as Farm to School.
This is the sixth selfed-generation of a hybrid we crossed
between Butternut Squash and the Amish Neck Pumpkin. After one more
selfed-generation, when the characteristics are fuly stabilized, we will
have a new open-pollinated variety. One plant produced five of these
squash and the one I am holding weighs 42 pounds! In a couple of years
we will add these to our Open Source Seed offerings.
Lynnita, Jordyn and I want to
wish all of you a blessed New Year. May we all keep each other in
prayer as we face the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Our On-Farm Training schedule
is now published on our website and we are ready to take reservations
for 2017. We look forward to another season of sharing our experience
with people from all over the country. We limit each session to ten
people, so that means there are only 60 openings this year.
Our committment to community involvement must go beyond
words, and I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with our local
elementary school by helping construct two high tunnels for students to
learn about gardening and the value of fresh foods. The staff at
Arnoldsburg Elementary recognizes the value of agriculture and its role
in education. I will be mentoring both staff and students as they
develop this school and community garden project in the coming year. I
am very pleased with the enthusiasm that the children, their parents,
and the teachers are exhibiting for this. The third grade class
presented me with a "Community World Changer Award" during a school
assembly and I am honored to be a participant in this great project.
From January 25 to 28 Lynnita and I will travel to Camp Kulaqua in Florida for the third annual Adventist Agriculture Association Conference.
I, along with many others, will be presenting a series of classes for
hundreds of people that recognize that agriculture is not only about
growing food, but also about growing character. These conferences are
an outgrowth of meetings that we held here at Berea Gardens back in 2009
and 2010 organized by Bob Jorgensen. The Dysinger family from
Tennessee with the help of others has carried Br. Jorgensen's legacy to
a whole new dimension by organizing the conference for the past three
years and expanding the group into a large, world-wide association. I
am looking forward to this meeting of like-minded people and am grateful
for the chance to teach and visit Florida in winter.
Bob Gregory is the Executive Director of Berea Gardens Agriculture Centerwhere he teaches classes in sustainable agriculture and manages a diversified vegan organic farm. He has more than 35 years of agricultural background in farm management and has worked as a certified crop consultant with extensive experience from coast to coast throughout North and South America. Berea Gardens Agriculture Centerprovides information and educational resources for Christian agricultural efforts around the world.