One of the things that I am passionate about is helping people live well in Appalachia. That is one of the reasons I so love the Grow Appalachia program. Helping mountain families to grow fresh food is awesome and moving them toward some economic independence is even better.
In Floyd County we have been blessed by a few dedicated people who believe that developing a local food system can make a major difference in the health and well being of the area. We have spent hundreds of hours building our local Farmer’s Market which I will highlight in my next post. We knew though that to make a real difference in Appalachia as a whole, we would have to cross some county lines to grow our local food network. Imagine our delight when we heard about the EKY Regional Farmers’ Market being planned in Hazard, KY by the Perry/Hazard Tourism Board. We were invited by Mae Humiston from Community Farm Alliance.
It was so fun to see many friends from the area, most of whom I met though my work with Grow Appalachia. There was Maggie Ashmore Bowling from Clay County, formerly GA Director at Pine Mountain Settlement School, Joyce Pinson from Pike County Farmers’ Market and local food advocate, and Hilary Neff, Letcher County Farmers Market co-manager who has her dainty little fingers several garden/food related groups in Letcher and Harlan counties.
There were also people I hadn’t met yet who came to see what was happening from Boyd County, Knott County and Morgan County markets. It was wonderful to see so many people interested in developing a regional food system. And we are only just beginning. Next week, at Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg, KY the fall meeting of the East Kentucky Local Food System Collaborative will be held on September 24th from 10:00 to 3:30. For more information contact Jason Brashear, Eastern Kentucky Farm to Table Coordinator, Community Farm Alliance, 606-634-9845. And to learn more about the collaborative go to www.appalfoods.org.
When I first moved to eastern Kentucky from Florida I couldn’t get used to everyone identifying themselves by the county they lived in. I hadn’t moved to Maytown, I had moved to Floyd County. Over time I realized that the identities of the region were based on county lines and county rivalries. But that was then and now it is time to “blur them county lines” and create a regional food system. KY Ag. Commissioner James Comer helped us do that by creating the Appalachia Proud brand for producers in the 37 county Appalachian region of the state. Now it is our turn.
If you are a producer, register to be Appalachian Proud. If you are a shopper (yes that is all of us) look for this logo when you shop.
We can develop our economy through agriculture. We can live well in the mountains. One garden, one market, one county at a time.