FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 02/01/2022
Contact: Kathlyn Terry Baker
Chief Executive Officer
Duffield, VA, 02/01/2022 – Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) has been awarded $212,000 from GO Virginia to spearhead a two-year initiative called: Mobilizing the Supply Chain for Critical Infrastructure. The initiative will occur in phases to establish the infrastructure needed to expand the capacity of agricultural producers to meet rising demand. This project was funded in part by GO Virginia, a state-funded initiative administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) that strengthens and diversifies Virginia’s economy and fosters the creation of higher wage jobs in strategic industries.
Phase one involves the incorporation of institutional markets into ASD’s Appalachian Harvest food hub wholesale buyer program. ASD is currently establishing a larger supply chain in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to provide local Virginia Grown produce into the school nutrition procurement protocols. With $75,000 from No Kid Hungry, ASD launched a pilot project to facilitate connections between area farmers and local schools. By creating accounts with school systems and childcare centers, ASD will be able to provide them with easily accessible local produce providers using Appalachian Harvest’s aggregation and distribution services. This also helps demystify the process of navigating the local food supply chain for school lunch staff and provides labor assistance for food prep by developing and supplying specialty value-added products (VAP).
Phase two includes necessary infrastructure expansions for producers who are developing new value-added products for the market or preserving their harvest. Much of this equipment will simplify planting and harvesting on farms, reduce labor costs and increase earning potential for small farmers.
ASD also envisions a phase three which includes the development of their headquarters, an educational campus where agriculture meets innovation. The campus will allow for on-site opportunities for agriculture entrepreneurism like agro-tourism, produce sales, demonstration sites, value-added production facilities, a farm-to-table cafe, specialty crop development needs, training centers, a social enterprise incubator and more.
A variety of farmers and food producers will benefit from this infrastructure development. Field and forest farmers can increase the profit margins of their products with light VAP production and packaging, which will save effort at the point of consumption. Local producers will be more able to meet the demand of institutional buyers needing a consistent product with minimal labor inputs. These buyers pay a premium for net savings on staffing costs to process whole, raw produce. Specialty medicinal herbs and forest botanical markets also pay a premium price for value-added production, and they typically need to outsource that step in the process. Equipment purchases and infrastructure for aggregation will increase ASD’s capacity to meet the increased production. Adding this specialty equipment to meet community needs will allow larger profit margins to stay in Region One.
ASD’s Appalachian Harvest food hub farmers can access more institutional buyers with consistent ordering which ultimately boosts local economies. Schools and childcare facilities can be good stewards of their state allocations for food by buying local and providing the children with fresh, locally sourced produce. ASD program participants can create products children love, allowing for smaller school kitchen staff, which is increasingly challenging for schools. With suitable facilities, ASD’s workforce development team can have a meaningful social enterprise and better job prospects by providing VAP production, light packaging and processing. Region One children will be fed products grown by small and medium farmers, developed and distributed by local at-risk job seekers.
“We are very grateful for this support. The economic impact of an effort like this is significant because we aim to close notable gaps in the local food supply chain by providing cost-share opportunities for agricultural production equipment and cost-prohibitive resources for small farmers and food producers. ASD will spend time researching, selecting, and installing necessary equipment and build out an expanded network of farmers and producers, buyers, and markets, accessible to all. ASD will also develop digital marketing resources, additional grocery and herb markets, and institutional buyers in the school nutrition offices,” comments Kathlyn Terry Baker, Appalachian Sustainable Development’s CEO.
About GO Virginia
GO Virginia is a bipartisan, business-led economic development initiative that is changing the way Virginia’s diverse regions collaborate on economic and workforce development activities. GO Virginia supports programs to create more high-paying jobs through incentivized collaboration between business, education, and government to diversify and strengthen the economy in every region of the Commonwealth. To learn more, visit: https://govirginia.org.
About Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)
Living Better. Locally. It’s what drives ASD’s commitment to propel its mission to build a thriving regional food and agriculture system that creates healthy communities, respects the planet, and cultivates profitable opportunities for Appalachians. Since 1995, ASD has been working in Central Appalachia, providing hope, and making a difference for the people who call the region home. What began as opportunities for struggling tobacco farmers to grow fruits and vegetables have become lasting solutions to regional challenges that impact economic development, workforce development, food access, health, and wellness. Over the years, ASD has expanded its reach from northeast TN and southwest VA to include partners in WV, OH and KY, enabling the organization to bring resources back to the region. For more information, visit: https://asdevelop.org.
# # #