Seven different bands will perform this evening for just $7 at Generations Restaurant & Pub in support of Grow Ohio Valley, a local non-profit organization growing and selling fruits, flowers, and vegetables here in the Upper Ohio Valley.
“This is a chance for local residents to come out and learn everything there is to know about Grow Ohio Valley and the efforts we’re making to address a pretty big issue in this area, and that’s eating healthier foods produced right here,” explained Kacey Orr, the operations manager for Grow OV. “At the same time they’ll have the opportunity to listen to some of the best bands in the area.
“The funds that we raise with this event will help us expand a couple of the programs we’ve already started, and they include the Mobile Market and the education program we have initiated with our local schools,” she continued. “We held a contest for local students. All they had to do was submit their reasons for wanting a garden at their school, and we had 10 entries from 10 different schools. That tells us that our local children want to grow their own food.”
Grow Ohio Valley started the “Garden in Every School” contest in March during a “Growing Food, Hope and Health” event at Mount St. Joseph. A part of this program is a contest during which students from Ohio and Marshall counties could win an organic vegetable garden for their school as well as a visit from a Grow Ohio Valley staff member. The total value of the prize is estimated at $6,500, and the winning school will be announced on May 25.
“We would like to see every single school in this valley have a garden to teach the students about the benefits of growing their own food,” Orr said. “It’s our hope that the experience will stick with the students so they go on to eat much better food than what they might be consuming today.”
Orr explained that the Generations kitchen will be open for those wishing to eat while visiting this evening’s event. The first band will take the stage at 5 p.m. and the function will end at midnight. Brown Bear’s Revival, Concrete Teepee, Old Northern, Mr. Fancy Pants, The Pussyfooters, Stellar Winds, and Michael Iafrate all are scheduled to perform.
“It will be a family friendly event suited for all members of the family,” she said. “We hope mothers and fathers will bring their children, and we expect to use the outside stage and set everything up for the event in Generation’s back parking lot near the two decks near Big Wheeling Creek. The weather is expected to be outstanding, but in the case of rain we’ll just move to their top level with the entrance on the National Road level.
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“We see this as our chance to introduce ourselves and to let people know what to expect at the Farmers’ Markets when they get started in the middle of June, and we also want our locals to know of the many other opportunities they have to improve their diets by eating the organic produce that is grown and harvested here in Ohio County, but also in East Ohio and up and down the Northern Panhandle,” Orr continued. “We now have the greenhouses on 14th Street and Farm 18 in East Wheeling, and we are also growing at a couple of other locations, too. But we are also working with a few other farms from around the valley this year so we can keep up with the demand.”
One way local residents can assure themselves fresh fruits and vegetables each week is to participate in Grow Ohio Valley’s Community-Supported Agriculture Program this spring and summer. To receive weekly deliveries beginning in June and extending through September customers will make a one-time $400 payment.
“For 15 consecutive weeks those who choose to participate in the program will receive a box of freshness filled with a few things that we will choose for them, but they will also have the chance to choose what they want specifically week-to-week,” Orr explained. “We are growing almost 30 different fruits and vegetables, so the variety will be there if our patrons want it, or they can stick with what they already know each week. It’s up to them, and we’ll also include some fresh-cut organic flowers in the deliveries when they are available at our gardens.”
Orr also reported that the Local Foods, Local Places Initiative is moving forward, as well. In 2014, the Wheeling National Heritage Corporation, Reinvent Wheeling, and Grow Ohio Valley, Inc., submitted an application for technical assistance from the federal program. Wheeling was among the 26 communities selected from over 300 applicants to receive assistance, and a team of experts joined local stakeholders in a two-day workshop in April to engage the public and their ideas for future development of the east and west sides of Wheeling Hill.
During the workshop, representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) offered technical assistance.
“We heard from several folks from the area during the workshops, and that let us know that the public is very interested in what we are doing because they want to eat healthier foods,” Orr said. “Our plan is to keep sending that message to attract even more folks to growing and eating better foods during their lives.”