Andy Moore, Age 22, Self-Employed Gardener; Big Branch, Kentucky, Perry County:
“I pretty much just work for myself. Seems like I can make a little better money than what a minimum wage job pays. Besides gardening, you see these people on TV, doing the ginsenging, and stuff like that? I do that, plus dig more than that.
There’s hundreds of medicinal plants around here can be sold. It just all depends on what the market’s bringing, and what the buyers are wanting. I sell to a middleman basically, that deals with that stuff. I’ve sold the black cohosh, blue cohosh, wild hydrangea, May apple, bloodroot, yellow root, ginseng, elm bark, moss, stone root, wild yams. I mean, I could keep on naming them.
I learned a lot of plants from my parents, but when I got into it, I took it a little bit further. I took it upon myself to learn other things, and I still learn something every day.
Growing up, I was never in the house. I never wanted to be inside. Period. I was interested in hunting and fishing, just anything, any excuse to be outside, or to be in the garden, or to just be doing something in nature. [I enjoyed] anything to do with putting my feet on the dirt.
Hillbilly, mountain man, redneck…I guess you consider me a hybrid.
The stuff that we’re doing right here [in Appalachia] is real good. There’s all kinds of stuff that can be done, as far as money. Some people may choose not to do that. Some people don’t want to live this kind of lifestyle, but it is a good, alternative lifestyle. There’s so many ways that you can make money making a living off of what’s provided to you here.
There are options. You’re not going to be a millionaire doing it, but from what I’ve learned, you’re always going to have enough to survive, and that’s the kind of person I am. I don’t want a lot of extra stuff. As long as I have what I need, I’m happy with it.
It’s [Appalachia] just where I grew up, and what I’m accustomed to. Since I was a kid, I’ve devoted my life to learning this stuff. If I left here now, it’s throwing a life’s work away. As far as being in a town or a city, I just never was that kind of person.
You got a lot of different bloodlines that makes the Appalachian people, and it’s a rich heritage. It’s hard to put into words about the way the people around here are. We’re a different breed, and we’re a very stereotyped people, too, for the wrong reasons.
People think that this part of the country is just a host of ignorant people, and that’s a bad thing to say, because no matter where you go in the world, there’s going to be people ignorant of something else in the world. You have to look upon the knowledge that’s here, or anywhere else you go.
I’m not saying that we’re ignorant of the rest of the world. I’m just saying as a collective knowledge, we’re different about what we know, and how we live. Just because somebody hears an accent from around here, they think you’re illiterate, that you just grew up poor, and will never accomplish anything. And that’s a bad mindset to have.
(Regarding the region’s future) I look for there to be a lot less people here than what they are right now, and for the people that decides to stay, it’s going to be a different industry than what we’ve been used to. People that decide to stay, is going to have to find new ways to make a living.
Like I said, there’s a lot of different ways we can do that. Be open to trying new things. If you’re going to be here anyway, you might as try something else, ‘cause what we been doing, it isn’t working anymore.
I’ve never had a time in my life that I wasn’t happy here. I was born here, and I have full intentions of dying here. And, I guess as long as I die here, I’ll die happy.
I’ve always said that there’s one thing that every road on this planet has in common; there’s not a single one of ‘em can take me where I want to be. It can get me a little bit closer, but it can’t take me there.
I have to be out in the woods, or be out in the middle of nowhere to be happy.“