Grow Appalachia was created in 2009 through funding from John Paul Dejoria, co-founder and owner of John Paul Mitchell Systems (JPMS) and Patron Tequila, to address the problem of food security in Appalachia. Tommy Callahan, a friend of John Paul’s and Senior Vice President of Training and Development at JPMS, told John Paul about his experience growing up in Harlan County, Kentucky, where food insecurity is still pervasive and healthy food is frequently unavailable. A natural entrepreneur and problem-solver, John Paul began cultivating a unique vision for tackling food insecurity. He believes that the best way to help people is to empower them to help themselves—even when facing steep, structural challenges.

John Paul began collaborating with Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, to develop a program that would both meet needs and leverage existing community strengths. Director David Cooke—a West Virginia native, a lifelong gardener, and former WV extension agent—answered the call and has been responsible for developing the Grow Appalachia program and its partnerships ever since. John Paul’s ongoing generosity has allowed the Grow Appalachia program to impact the live of many thousands of Appalachian families.

Rather than apply a cookie cutter approach to nutrition based wellness, Grow Appalachia meets families where they live and addresses their specific needs. Some families need only help with tillage and fertilization. Some families need to start from scratch. Some elderly and disabled gardeners need help with the hard labor of preparing beds, planting and cultivation, and Grow Appalachia connects them with young people to enable them to keep food security at their own homes. We provide each family with what they need to succeed.

“Success unshared is failure.”

John Paul Dejoria • Founder + Primary Philanthropic Investor