Russell County Extension SNAP-Ed Assistant, Margie Martinez; Small Farm Assistant Wanda Miick (KSU); EFNEP Assistant Julie Beckmann; and Agents Pam York (FCS); and Raymond Thompson (ANR), continued their Community Garden for limited resource families in a new more visible and convenient location.  It was expanded to include 34 racially diverse participants (24 Hispanic, 9 white and 1 African American).  There were 9 individual garden plots which the gardeners were taught to tend.  Instruction included weed and pest control and utilizing black plastic and irrigation systems.  The families harvested approximately 105 bushels of fresh produce, along with 250 watermelons, cantaloupes, pumpkins, and cabbages.  Three food preservation workshops were held to teach proper techniques resulting in 831 quarts and 68 pints of food being canned or frozen. 

Steve Osborne, Allen County Extension Agent for ANR, formed a new partnership with the local Mennonite community to help them gain ability to retain existing markets and acquire new markets for their produce.   Instruction was provided to the community including pesticide training, agricultural practices needed so they could meet requirements of a Third Party Audit (to be conducted the coming year), value added products, and marketing opportunities.  In working with this audience’s customs, many programs had to be adapted or developed without the use of computers, Power Point presentations, videos, etc. In addition, to relieve safety concerns with large numbers of buggies being on secondary roads, these programs were provided in the communities and presented in community schools and/or producer homes. 

The Annual Four River Counties Women in Agriculture Seminar is held to give women in agriculture educational and networking opportunities that help them realize they have a valuable role in making agriculture related decisions.  Topics have included: Grain Marketing, Pest Management, Forestry Planning, Farm Estate Planning, Farm Safety, Identifying Methamphetamine on Your Land, Farm Recordkeeping, and Value-added products.  Counties included are Carlisle, Ballard, Fulton, and Hickman with agents Sara Bogle (FCS), Carla Harper (ANR), Debbie Temple (FCS), Cam Kenimer (ANR), Amy Tyler (FCS), Melissa Goodman (FCS), and Darian Irvan (ANR).

Bonnie Sigmon, Laurel County Extension Agent for Horticulture, planned and installed a “square foot garden” for use by residents of a low-income housing complex.  Along with the garden materials, the participants received vouchers to purchase vegetable plants at the local farmers market.  Mini-workshops were conducted on a weekly basis to address issues or concerns the participants had about their garden.  At the end of the growing season, six families reported they were consuming vegetables grown in their square foot gardens.  They reported that some of the benefits of participating in the program included a reduction in grocery costs, improvement in the nutritional quality of foods prepared and served within the family, better knowledge of basic gardening skills, and an increase in the quality time spent together as a family while working in the garden.

The Literacy, Eating, and Activity for Primary (LEAP) Program was taught to 475 students in Oak Hill Elementary School which has an 8% Hispanic population.  Nutrition, food safety and manners were included in the monthly lessons.  Students also received samples of fresh fruits and vegetables. Many of the students, and teachers, had never tasted products such as spinach, turnips, star fruit, or pomegranate.  A newsletter was also been sent home to parents to help them better understand nutrition, food safety, and the importance of reading to their children.  Most were not familiar with Extension and learned about all the services Extension has to offer.  The program was led by Edith Lovett, Pulaski County Extension Agent for FCS and Program Assistant Brenda Williamson.

Lee Ann McCuiston, Todd County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development, partnered with local agencies to provide a two-day fine arts camp that enabled youth to better understand a more diverse culture through music, art and dance and to explore their own talents in this area.  The students were racially diverse and ranged in age from 5th to 10thgrade.  More than $4000.00 in grants and resources were utilized to provide a trip to Nashville attractions and to bring members of a ballet dance company to the county.   This was the first time fine arts programming had been offered in Todd County. 

Cora Hughes, Muhlenberg County Extension Agent for Fine Arts developed the county’s first Arts Council, with over 30 members, from every area of Muhlenberg County. High school students, senior citizens, and African Americans serve on the council. The majority of the members of this council had never been involved in Extension and never utilized our Extension facility. In addition to being involved in fine arts programming, they now are learning what Extension is all about and are eager to serve in any capacity that is afforded them.