Program Coordinators

Jennifer Roop

VA Project & Regional Coalition Coordinator
Before joining the ASD team in January 2017, Jenni concluded her career in the healthcare field as a Dietary ...
Manager/Corporate Chef for an Assisted Living Community chain. Before that, she was a Medical Supply Manager for another facility. Jenni was born and raised in Abingdon, VA and has buried her roots there with husband and best friend, Brad; beautiful and crazy smart 6-year-old daughter, Annabel; and two amazing dogs, Zoey and Hank. When she is not working for ASD, she enjoys running on the Creeper Trail or Kayaking on the South Holston Lake in the summer and curling up by the fire  with her family (or hibernating) in the winter.
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Alexis Close

TN Project Coordinator
Alexis has a Masters from Clark University. After a year and a half of working on organic farms in Europe and the U.S.,
Close returned to Central Appalachia and co-founded the community organization “Build It Up East Tennessee” in 2012. In 2015, BIU started a cooperative of 10 low-income “market gardeners” who collectively grew over 11,000 lbs of food and sold $8,000 worth of fresh produce in 2015.  Sales in 2016 have topped $15,000. Close was responsible for much of this coordination. She was the USDA-funded Local Food Promotion Program Coordinator for the southwest VA and northeast TN region from 2014-2016. She is currently the Beginning Farmer Services Coordinator for the Appalachian RC&D Council, which includes arranging more than 12 workshops a year according to beginning farmer interest, consulting beginning farmers on farm resource inventories, and teaching market-garden crop planning, horticulture, harvesting, processing, local marketing.
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Program Partners

  

  

  

Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, based in southwest VA and serving southwest VA, northeast TN, and more recently ...
parts of WV, KY, and OH. ASD’s mission is to transition Appalachia to a more resilient economy and a healthier population by supporting local agriculture, exploring new economic opportunities, and connecting marginalized populations with agricultural production opportunities. The training and support services ASD provides to beginning farmers include: business and market plan development; USDA GAP and Harmonized food safety training and audit support; Certified Organic training and audit support; production planning for wholesale markets; marketing, aggregation, and delivery services through the Appalachian Harvest food hub; logistics/DOT/load management training; organic production practices; a free regional Local Food Guide, ; agroforestry cultivation and harvesting support; and market development. Appalachian Harvest has trained hundreds of beginning farmers since it was established in 2000. Many of those beginning farmers learned how to grow and market their products at the food hub and then went on to develop their own successful farming enterprises.
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The Appalachian RC&D Council serves northeast Tennessee. It's approach to improving rural economic development ...
is through direct service to small and medium-sized agricultural entrepreneurs through advocacy, direct consulting, grant writing, and training. To improve markets for direct-sale, the ARC&D has been at the forefront of the Local movement through ongoing regional campaigns centered around local food promotion, farmers market expansion, and agritourism. The organization is in its second year of offering the Field School, a 10-session curriculum in the classroom and field to expose beginning farmers to whole farm thinking and planning and connect them with support resources. The program has graduated 20 students and has an additional 25 currently enrolled. The student base (n=45) ranges in age from 19 to 73; 50% are women and 13% are veterans; 15% have self-identified as “limited resource”. Therefore 30% of our recruited base is either a veteran, limited resource, or historically disadvantaged. Four (out of 20) graduates are now in full-time farm work; At least ten more are engaged in developing their farm business part-time. Several are moving forward in their farming journeys in exciting ways. One man, a 32-year old veteran, bought a farm and the Field School has helped him envision a plan forward; he has enjoyed the course so much that he, in turn, sponsored 1 place for a veteran for 2016-2017. One woman, a 27-year old, has become head manager of a vegetable farm that sells directly to restaurants and a 150-member CSA. One couple retired, has started a homestead farm selling eggs to the farmers market and are beginning a goat operation. One man retired, has launched a 30-acre certified organic farm and built 3 hoop houses with NRCS. The organization’s 22-year connections with the farming community have primed the pump for recruiting mentor farmers and implementing grant objectives and outcomes.
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Rural Resources, a 20+-year-old community-based non-profit organization located on a Greene County farm, has been engaging 95% ...
limited resource and food insecure teenagers in farm and food entrepreneurship since 2008. 10% are minority students. Our Farm & Food Training provides teens, over the course of 4 years, with a base of experiential skills around growing food (raising produce and livestock), paid work experience, and then the challenge of developing and launching a food-related business. After graduation from the program, 20% of teens choose to take on a seasonal internship on a local farm showing a sustained interest in pursuing agriculture. This program happens outside of the school system although very much approved and aided by the schools. Food-insecure teens come to the Rural Resources Farm in groups of 10-15 students two times a month and weekly during the summer. The farm is a “safe space” for teens to learn about and grow food. They take ownership in their activities. All transportation is provided for the activities via a retired school bus donated by the Greene Co. Schools.
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Dr. Kelly Foster, Asst. Professor of Sociology & Director of the Applied Social Research Lab at East Tennessee State University. Her expertise is in ...
research methodology, including survey research, questionnaire design, and program evaluation, and she served 2 years on the executive council for the American Association of Public Opinion Research, the leading organization for survey researchers. Dr. Foster has recently been the lead evaluator on a large-scale federally funded grant that evaluated 18 national-award- winning community impact programs in Tennessee. She has worked extensively with local and state governments on community evaluations, public opinion polling, and citizen engagement.
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Contact Your Project Coordinator For More Information

Jennifer Roop

VA Project & Regional Coordinator
eMail Us | 276.623.1121

Alexis Close

TN Project Coordinator
eMail Us | 276.623.1121