Owen Wells of the Logan Banner reports food deserts, or areas without easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables are quickly spreading across the landscape.
The obesity problem has become an epidemic and convenience foods have become the go to choice for consumers.
A counter-movement advocating home gardening with the aim of restoring access to healthful, homegrown foods has spread across the country.
In Logan and Lincoln counties, that movement is represented by Grow Appalachia.
Grow Appalachia is a non-profit community initiative funded by a grant from the hair care company Paul Mitchell.
In furtherance of their goal of spreading healthy, sustainable agriculture, the group is currently taking applications for their 2017 program.
Bea Sias, with Grow Appalachia, explained everything an aspiring gardener would need to grow their own produce is provided for free.
Farmers in the program are given with shovels, hoes, fertilizer, seeds and host of other implements.
Sias stressed the program is open to everyone regardless of income saying the organization’s interests lie with providing fresh organic produce to the people of the area.
Farmers in the program attend a series of eight workshops taught by seasoned gardeners, which help teach them how to maximize yields, deter pests and preserve food through canning.
All food grown in the Grow Appalachia program is organic, and farmers who wish to sell their food for personal profit are encouraged to do so.
Sias reported that, in 2014, the Logan County Grow Appalachia project produced 15,000 pounds of produce.
In 2015, Grow Appalachia in Logan County reportedly produced over 19,000 pounds of food — a more than 25 percent increase.
In 2016, however, the group reportedly broke the mold producing a staggering 41,000 pounds of organic produce.
On top of a group of 35 regular gardeners in the program, the group also plans to further engage in the community with gardens planned at Buffalo Grade School, Chapmanville Towers, the nursing home and the group recovery homes in Logan.
Grow Appalachia is also putting focus on the Man area this year, and a special group will be holding meetings at the Buffalo Creek Library in South Man.
Anyone interested in attending the meetings in Man or joining Grow Appalachia for the 2017 growing season can contact Bea Sias at 304-896-5000.