Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative

About Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative

The Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative (ASFC) began as an informal network in 2008 when Brandon Jaeger received a grant to test high-nutrient crops from the USDA’s NCR-SARE. After receiving the grant, Rural Action acted as a fiscal sponsor that helped fund an assessment of what would be necessary to build regional staple seed crop value chains in Appalachia. As a result, ASFC helped launch Shagbark Seed & Mill in Athens, Ohio.

Michelle Ajamian

Fast forward 11 years. 

In August 2019, Rural Action decided to hire Michelle Ajamian in an official capacity as the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative Network Manager. Working through Rural Action’s Sustainable Agriculture Program, Michelle is developing a network to connect and support farmers, processors, and researchers in Central Appalachia. This year, the project will scale the work to connect Appalachia with the other regions and develop a peer-to-peer learning platform. 

One of the ways we are hoping to build and strengthen the staple foods network between regions is through a new website currently under development. And in our region, we are working with Shagbark Seed & Mill on the feasibility of building a Staple Seed Crop Processing Center where distribution, ordering, receiving, and storage would be centralized for a variety of start ups, like a flour mill, malting house, oil press, processing nut butters, and others that would benefit from an on-site seed cleaning operation. If you would like to learn more about the ASFC or be part of this important body of work, contact Michelle at