A River Name Which Is Also A Flower Name Appalachian Women Gardeners Add Wealth to Personal Finances

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Appalachian Women Gardeners Add Wealth to Personal Finances

This is the story of three women vegetable gardeners in Appalachia and how they use their resources to increase their household income. These women live in and around Scott and Morgan counties Tennessee. These counties are about eighty miles or so from Knoxville, Tennessee. I met two of these women while visiting family and visiting the Ministry of Health in the Appalachian area of ​​this Tennessee county. The third, Alma Story, belonged to Smriti and was my grandmother.

The wisdom of these three women gardeners is one of the blessings I have received that has been passed down through the generations.

An 84-year-old woman I’ll call ‘Flower’ is one such wise woman. She is named after a flower so she is given this name in this story. She has been gardening since childhood. She has had knee replacements and continues to garden when she can. Shortly after her surgery, I saw her clearing her land and the side of the land leading from her house to the road. I couldn’t believe it! She was going to recover from surgery. Instead, she was allowed to exercise by clearing her land of waste. When the flower is healthy, she will plant a garden and eat fresh vegetables in the summer. This food contains no additives or preservatives. Today we would call this type of organic food. It is called pure natural food.

For years Flower preserved food in jars and dried vegetables and preserved what else could be saved. The family will eat this food all winter until next spring, thus, there is plenty on the table in this house. The flower knows the value of the bean. She knows that one bean will make several pints or canned beans for the winter if the weather is good. Flower holds her head high as she sees to the needs of her home. A flower knows every plant on her land. She knows what is important to her landscape plants and what is a nuisance that needs to be minimized. For example, she says, “Cudgi will produce the required crop of vine plants.” She will cut it. In the south where this vine grows profusely, baskets can be made from its vines.

Flower has several walnut trees that she uses for nuts for candy and cakes. Over the years the squirrels buried the walnuts and the seeds from these walnuts have now become walnut trees. Flowers allow walnut trees to grow because neighbors can collect extra walnuts for their bread and pastries.

Flower lives on a small retirement from her dead husband. When Flower’s grandchildren visit in late summer, she can feed them from her garden. A table full of fresh vegetables and melons abounds. If not for the garden, Flower would not be able to support her family in this way. Eating preserved food during the winter months reduces her monthly grocery budget, saving her a quarter of her retirement each month. For example, if she receives eight hundred dollars a month in retirement benefits and can save a quarter of that amount during the winter months of November through May of the coming year, she has saved $1,400 dollars from the previous year’s grain crop.

Another woman, Wanda, who lives in Morgan County, Tennessee, also sees the importance of gardens.

Wanda and I had a conversation recently and she said that her garden is very precious to her. This is a small part of that conversation.

“That garden will save me about three hundred dollars on fresh produce in the last month of summer. I can save about nine hundred dollars on that food in the winter months. That means a lot more when you have a fixed income.”

Wanda continues about the cost of her garden..”I had surgery once and still had a cast on. I put a plastic bag around my leg to keep the cast clean and worked in my garden. I had to do this so the crops would grow with the season.”

Wanda is now teaching a new neighbor woman in her thirties how to grow a garden. Observing Wanda and her gardening helped me better understand the importance of stewardship. A third woman named Alma lived in Scott County Tennessee. Her home was on a bluff near the Clear Fork River. This is an area that is close to the Big South Fork Preservation Park, which runs through parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Alma planted large gardens and fields full of corn. When Alma began drawing Social Security, she was receiving $65 a month. Now I admit that was almost twenty years ago but her story still has relevance today.

I knew this woman well. She was my grandmother, Alma Jones Story. Grandma taught me what a garden can produce. She did not work in public but worked hard in her house and land. Grandma used to plant a garden and at the end of summer she had a cellar full of food and dried vegetables.

She would save seeds from previous gardens and show us the seeds and ask us to remember what could grow from those seeds. I still think of those big gardens and cellars/cellars full of food. When Grandma left, she had a basement full of food, a smart bank account, and no one owed anything. From childhood I remember that my grandmother would plant a seed in the ground and after a few months that same bean would be a big bunch of beans. She would later cook the beans and preserve them in a jar.

Every week Grandma would use a spade or her hands and pull out the weeds growing near the beans or any other vegetables. If it did not rain, she would draw water from her well and water the plants. I still remember how big that garden was from a bunch of seeds. I still remember the summer and late fall meals she used to put on the table from the garden. She didn’t have to use her meager Social Security money to pay for the food on that table but instead, served it with a smile.

My husband and I are planning to plant a garden in our backyard this summer. We’ll keep track of our grocery bills and see for ourselves how much income a backyard garden in the city will generate for us.

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