Friends Drift Inn Farm – Real Life
“I cannot speak for the all folks within the 205,000 miles that is Appalachia. Each of us have a different voice. This blog is mine.” Joyce Pinson, Friends Drift Inn Farm Pikeville KY
My Corner of Appalachia is Kentucky and West Virginia
A Quick Geography Lesson on Appalachia
Looking at a map of Kentucky, I live in Pike County the easternmost county which borders West Virginia and Virginia. The largest county in Kentucky, Pike takes in 789 square miles. I live on Johns Creek next door to an active coalmine. We really do live in a big red barn. I farm under the shadow of Bent Ridge on land that has been in the Charlie’s family for six generations. My own kinfolk were founding pioneers up and down the Big Sandy.
When you live somewhere for 30 years, when your ancestors were from the area, when you marry into a family that has been deeply rooted in the mountains since the late 1700’s and has never left, you know a little about home. A little.
By the Appalachian Regional Commission’s calculations, Appalachia is 205,000 miles square miles. From a writer’s perspective, I think there should be more, but you cannot argue with the ARC unless you have lots of time. I don’t. That said the ARC concludes the Appalachian region meanders through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and finally winds down in Mississippi.
Y’all that is a whole lot of real estate! I embrace all of Appalachia, but all is not mine. Kentucky and West Virginia, they are my heart. That is what I am. That is who I am.
Why I Call a Slice of Appalachia Mine
I have lived here three decades. The ups and downs of my life are set against the ever changing vista of our mountains. I cannot imagine willingly calling any other place home. The big red barn is my sanctuary. The farm is my laboratory. The people are my kin.
My Appalachia is a place for all seasons. There is winter, spring, fall and winter. But it is the ‘tween seasons of blackberry winter, dogwood winter, and elderberry tide, that flavors my experience. This is especially true for me as a farmer and a home cook keenly focused on the seasons.
My Appalachia is where I plant peas in February and pumpkins in May. It is where the local news is first learned at the quilting bee. It is home to soup bean dinners and white linen banquets. It is the place where folks rarely go barefoot outside; the ground is too rocky.
My Appalachia is momma on the phone saying y’all come down for supper. My Appalachia is award winning Junior Chefs, high school students from West Virginia and Kentucky who have statewide bragging rights.
My Appalachia is a community known as a banking center, a healthcare center, and as the home of The University of Pikeville and their sister institution, The Kentucky School of Osteopathic Medicine.
My Appalachia is hurting. We have lost many coal jobs. No matter what business you are in, in coal country if coal is hurting so is your business. Like many big cities, we have problems centering on drug abuse, diabetes, and obesity. We have food deserts. However, we are not just licking our wounds and bandaging up our infirmities, we are resolved to make a better home for the generations to come.
My Appalachia is celebrating. There is a groundswell here, an agricultural revival that is accelerating. The growing pains keep us stretching out once forgotten muscles and preparing to run the race of our lives. Our school cafeterias are changing. Young people are turning to farming as a source of revenue. Demand for local food pushes us to explore new possibilities. Our new farmers market promises to be not just a hub for commerce, but a center for reclaiming Appalachian foodways and agricultural heritage.
My Appalachia is about technology. It is bright kids, fiber optics and broadband. It is also a place where heirloom beans are traded like sports cards.
My Appalachia is where hope grows.
Friends Drift Inn Farm is growing a good life in Appalachia, at least in my little corner of it. This is my story. This is my life.
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