Dorothy Feltner, VISTA at Lotts Creek Community School reporting in.
The last two days (Tuesday and Wednesday), I have been on a regional tour of local food initiatives. The tour was put together through many collaborative efforts spearheaded by Chad Conway (UK ext agent). We had a group of about 10 people and toured multiple farmers markets and various type of aggregation sites.
The first site we stopped at was Appalachian Harvest which is a local food hub that was based on aiding the transition of tobacco farmers losing their subsidies to a viable market of food growing. The business model here operates on 20% of aggregated product sales plus grants and other funding. The 20% fee helps to maintain integrity and keep profits in the hands of farmers as opposed to the model of purchasing and then reselling. Appalachian Harvest offers branded products like boxes and other marketing materials to the farmers as well as a washing station and technical/educational support. Pictures of the facility are below.
Next we stopped at a few farmers markets that were impressive and successful. They had a variety of vendors, music, and engaging youth programs.
We also visited Appalachian Grown out of Asheville, NC, which is a different type of agregator. They offer local food branding and create space for the meetings of buyers and distributors. They don’t move food themselves but aggregate social capital and focus on economic sustainability for farmers.
We visited a few other locations for fun, including Icing on the Cake in Whitesburg, KY, Market Place in Asheville, NC, and Early Girl in Asheville, NC. The trip was very informative and fun.