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Would-be farmers to get opportunity to grow and sell

Lexy Close is urging anyone out there dreaming of a garden or longing for a way to become more self-sufficient to pay close attention.
You may soon be able to stop dreaming.
Through a $23,000 grant awarded through Grow Appalachia, Build It Up East TN is now in the process of recruiting and training small scale gardeners to grow fresh produce for area markets in 2015.
“We opened (the application process) Sunday,” said Close, who is the co-founder and program leader for Build It Up. “If people are interested in market gardening on a small scale, our website is builditupetn.com.”
According to Grow Appalachia, “family farming and gardening have become less popular and less profitable in Appalachia, limiting access to healthy, affordable food. Grow Appalachia seeks to solve pervasive food insecurity issues by restoring the relationship between the people and the land.”
Build it Up East TN is looking for 10 or more gardeners who are interested in producing high yield crops for sale at the Boone Street Market in Jonesborough, as well as other area markets and restaurants.
“We’re going to really focus on families with children, people receiving SNAP and young people under age of 30,” Close said.
The idea is to plant the seeds for a next generation of local, organic food producers.
All participants will be trained in using organic methods and season extension techniques. Business coaching will assist the gardeners in creating sustainable models that have the potential to add several hundreds of dollars per month of income from their efforts.
Participants will need to have access to a 20-foot-by-25-foot plot of land that gets a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day. Larger plots are acceptable.
“If you have the appropriate space, this grant will provide you with soil analysis, tilling, tools, fertilizer, seeds, irrigation, and lots of support and training. Our goal is to help people get a leg up on starting their own small-scale market garden business,” Close said.
Build It Up was founded in 2012, with a mission to increase access to local food that is grown using sustainable, non-polluting methods. For more information about Build It Up, visit www.builditupetn.com or contact Close at 946-1673.