Family in coal country converting to local food

Coal country is depressed, and some blame President Obama and the EPA:

But Joel, Linda, and the rest of their family have a different answer. “Agriculture,” Linda responds, without missing a beat. “Everybody—I don’t care if there’s two people left in the county—they’ve got to eat.”

Her family is doing its best to get that transition started. At Five Loaves and Two Fishes, the food bank they run to serve McDowell County residents, the McKinney family maintains a traditional garden as well as five hydroponic towers. The produce they grow not only supplements the food they give out, but acts as an educational model to encourage people to start their own gardens and agribusinesses.

Everybody has to eat, and this family knows what real wealth is in the ground:

“They can say, poor, poor West Virginia and poor, poor, McDowell County. I don’t do that. I’m gonna be the brightest little star I can in my little corner where God put me.”

December 9, 2015: The garden just days before the first snow

IMAG2811Greenhouse seen from the street

IMAG2807Garlic patch

We have a new method for signalling which plots have been watered: a white cup impaled on a rebar stake indicates the plot has been most recently watered. As new plots are watered, Just move the contraption to newly watered plots. The garlic was going to be next, but with the rain and snow on 12.12, we can wait.

IMAG2797Interior of greenhouse with row cover over greens, herbs drying in the hanger, solar fan above, and water tube to moderate the temperature at the far end next to the baskets.


Lettuce and parsley                             Spinach two kinds

Greens are for the picking in the greenhouse. Be sure to check the earth boxes too.  Scissors are right there on the shelf for easy cutting.  Be sure to recover after you pick.

IMAG2808Joyce, Molly, and Steve will be back after the holidays.  Anybody who wants to join them may on these dates at 10 a.m., weather permitting:  Jan. 13, 22; Feb. 10, 24.

IMAG2809The source of our grant

.IMAG2801 Garden at rest

IMAG2806 Always something to do








Three films on soil

Three excellent documentaries, Symphony of the Soil (2012, listed but not yet available on Netflix, available for $20 on amazon), Soil Carbon Cowboys (not available on Netflix or amazon) and Back to Eden (2011, listed but not currently available on amazon), are featured in the article linked below that includes short film clips from all three.  Symphony of the Soil, screened recently at Albuqerque’s Open Space Visitors’ Center, shows among other things the importance of soil microbes.  Soil Carbon Cowboys shows new sustainable grazing techniques.  And Back to Eden covers the importance of protective ground covers.

I couldn’t find any of these films at Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Libraries.  We need to figure out how to encourage vendors to make these films available.  But you can google them and find them on youtube as well as vimeo.  Here’s the link to the article: