What began as creative opportunities for struggling tobacco farmers to grow fruits and vegetables to stay on family farms has become solutions to regional challenges. We are impacting workforce development by creating jobs in farming and agriculture. We are addressing food insecurity and health and wellness by educating people about where their food comes from and teaching them to grow their own food.
Since 1995, we have been serving more than 15 counties in northeast TN and southwest VA. As our work continues, we will expand our focus to include regional partners to build important connections to increase market access and bring necessary resources to the rural communities in our physical footprint.
Appalachian Harvest, our food hub opened its doors to help local farmers connect to wholesale retail markets. We secure retail orders from grocers like Whole Foods and Ingles Markets, provide aggregation and distribution support as well as offer training in food safety and handling and organic certification. Since 2000, local farmers have earned more than $11.8 million dollars in income.
Learning Landscapes sets the stage to teach children ages K-12 where their food comes from. With a desire to introduce Appalachian children to fresh food, we began a outdoor garden classroom educational program. Initially designed to support STEM, SOL and TCAP’s this program has evolved to address food insecurity and now includes a larger focus on food production (so children can take food home), nutrition education and cooking classes.
Due to the strict aesthetic guidelines of wholesale retail markets, a program called Healthy Families-Family Farms emerged. We purchase ‘seconds’ produce or ‘ugly’ fruit from local farmers and then donate this nutritious and delicious produce to food pantries and food banks in the region. Since 2004, we’ve donated over 1 million pounds.
Grow Your Own empowers families in need grow food in home based gardens. By providing educational workshops, seeds, tools, plants and garden partners…families have grown more than 54,000 pounds of food to feed themselves.
When families don’t have green space or have physical limitations, Garden Box Project offers a similar opportunity to grow food, but on a smaller scale. By planting food in small boxes on legs with casters, those in need can grow fresh produce, herbs and more and feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Today more than 100 families are benefiting from the project.
WoodRight provides opportunities for local wood manufactuers to link with commercial and residential green building projects.
Agro-Forestry Products are forest botanicals such as shiitake mushrooms, ginseng, paw paw, ramps and more that are native to the region. These botanicals can be harvested for medicinal purposes or to produce value added products. In some regions planting fruit and nut bearing trees may also be beneficial to riparian buffer zones as well as provide fruits and nuts to address food insecurity.
Rooted in Appalachia encourages consumers to connect with the farmers that are growing and raising their food. Local businesses, restaurants and hospital systems partner to share their commitment to creating a strong local food culture. In doing so, local communities thrive because money spent locally stays local, people have more access to fresh, healthy food and farming is valued as a niche economic development driver.
Appalachian Farmers Market Association helps create and proliferate farmers markets across the region. The association creates an annual food guide and also hosts workshops, conferences and peer-to-peer round-tables. In many small communities in Central Appalachia, farmers markets are the weekly meeting place for young and old alike. Farmers markets offer new farmers, specialty crop growers or very small farmers an opportunity to earn income and be a vibrant part of the community fabric.
Recently, Appalachian Harvest launched its own line of Canned Goods. Check out our online Store and know that all of the proceeds go right back into your local economy and supports local farmers.