Perched on a hillside in the Hi Hat community of Floyd County is the home of Robert and Ruby Newsome. The Newsome home is overflowing with life, from hogs and dogs to chickens and cats, and a whole passel of grandchildren on summer break from school.
Surrounding all the activity, and in every available space, are patches of green vines growing tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, and more. “We just plant it everywhere and let it go,” Robert Newsome said of the patchwork of garden plots sprinkled around his property. “If we can dig a little hole, we’ll put something in it,” he said.
The Newsomes have been participating in the Garden Seed Program, offered through Big Sandy Area Community Action Program and funded by a Community Services Block Grant, for several years. The Garden Seed Program offers qualified individuals vouchers worth a total of $40 to buy seeds, plants, and fertilizer from local vendors. Using the vouchers, people get access to the items needed to build and sustain their own gardens.
Participants in the program use the vegetables they grow to add to their health, supplement their income, and extend their resources. The vegetables are eaten fresh, canned, and frozen, meaning less money is spent on groceries and more nutrition is available through the year.
“It helps a big lot to have a garden,” Newsome said. As a retired person surviving on Social Security, he and his wife rely on their garden to help them make ends meet. “[The money] don’t last too long when you’ve got all the bills to pay and medicine to buy, so the garden helps a lot.”
Newsome is especially fond of his wife’s fried green tomatoes and noted that she will prepare and freeze batches in the summer to save for later. “It’s nice in the winter time because if you take a notion for green tomatoes, you’ve got them right there,” he said.
While the Garden Seed Program is a simple one, the results add richness in all its forms to families across the region.
To find out if you qualify for the Garden Seed Program, contact the Big Sandy Area Community Action Program service office in your county. The program begins each April and vouchers are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Funding for the Garden Seed Program is made available by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Big Sandy Area Community Action Program is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a vast array of services, such as employment and training assistance, weatherization of homes, and area Head Start programs, in order to assist individuals and families in obtaining self-sufficiency. Through collaborative efforts of community and organizational partnerships, BSACAP seeks to improve the overall quality of life within the Floyd, Johnson, Martin, Magoffin, and Pike County communities. To learn more about BSACAP and their programs, visit www.bsacap.org or call (606) 789-3641.