First and foremost, we here at RAIL (Rural Appalachian Improvement League) would like to introduce ourselves to our new Grow Appalachia family! Our organization is comprised of some amazing individuals – young and not so young, with diverse backgrounds – all uniting for a single cause: to serve the people of our community. Operating out of the former Mullens Grade School, now known as the Mullens Opportunity Center (M.O.C.), RAIL has developed several programs to foster healthy and happy lifestyles, promote local agriculture, develop our youth and recreation, and also to preserve cultural heritage and community distinctiveness. Grow Appalachia is an amazing opportunity for our community and we strongly believe that through this program we can positively impact the lives of our neighbors, as well as strengthen our organization by bringing all our programs together.
As for most of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky; unemployment, poverty rates, and economic distress are too often the main narrative themes. The rapid decline of the coal industry has left its mark on the people of Appalachia and its economy. Our home county (Wyoming County, WV) is considered the 7th poorest county in the state, with an estimated 22.5% of individuals living under the national poverty line. In 2013, FRED economic data adjusted that 26% of Wyoming County’s population received SNAP benefits. By installing local and community gardens in our area we’re able to provide food security for those who may otherwise go without. As an added plus, this program grants us a medium to connect with our neighbors, ultimately creating a stronger and more tightly-knit community.
“The giver of food is the giver of life,
And indeed of everything else,
Therefore, one who desires well-being in
This world and beyond should
Specially endeavor to give food….
Food is indeed the preserver of life
And food is the source of procreation.”