West Virginia State Director Bobby Lewis and others visited Tucker County High School near Hambleton West Virginia as part of ARC’s tour through Appalachia. The group met with local educators and students to discuss the farm to school program; school, community and industry relationships; local farmers markets and greenhouse and high tunnel operation. While there, the group toured a high tunnel currently under construction. Photo Credit: Savanna Lyons of the WV Food & Farm Coalition
West Virginia and Appalachian Ohio have a lot in common beyond their shared state border. With a strong agricultural heritage, these vast rural areas are known for their forest and timber industries, and they are integrating food systems into local economic development.
Earlier this month, I joined Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Co-Chair Earl Gohl and Ohio’s State Rural Development Director Tony Logan to take a look at local food in the Buckeye state. My colleague, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Joani Walsh, recently made a similar trip to West Virginia. Organized by ARC, the visits were an opportunity to discuss how local food is diversifying the economy, developing a more competitive workforce and generating opportunities within regions like Appalachia. “Through our work on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, we know that there are lots of ways that local foods are providing economic opportunities in rural communities,” said Walsh. “These visits with ARC gave us a clearer picture of how that is happening in Appalachia.” Read more »
Pennsylvania is among the country’s top ten states represented in the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory. I recently completed a trip through the Fruit Belt to the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia to see how USDA’s support of farmers market development is impacting communities and helping farmers across the Keystone State.
My first stop was Camp Hill, a small town outside Harrisburg, to visit a new farmers market developed with the assistance of community organizations including Capital Resource and Conservation & Development Area Council (Capital RC&D). Capital RC&D received a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant to help farmers markets improve their consumer outreach and receive EBT and debit payments to expand micro-business opportunities for the area’s local farmers. The market, which just opened in May, is off to a great start with over a dozen vendors selling local bread, meat, dairy and produce from Pennsylvania’s fruit belt. Read more »