Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative

About Appalachian Staple Foods Cooperative

The Appalachian Stable 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 it became clear that assessing the supply chain was needed, and Rural Action then acted as a fiscal sponsor that helped fund that work. As a result, ASFC helped launch Shagbark Seed & Mill in Athens, Ohio, which is co-owned by Michelle Ajamian and Brandon.

Michelle Ajamian

Fast forward 11 years. 

In August 2019, Rural Action and  Michelle began discussing ways that we could continue to expand support and resources for the ASFC. As a result, Michelle joined Rural Action 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 is through a new website currently under development. 

“Rural Action was an early supporter of our work when we started, which enabled the receipt of a grant to conduct a network study assessing stakeholders and necessary resources to build a regional staple food system in Appalachia,” Michelle says. “We now have the opportunity to build a North American network and a website connecting the many farms, bakeries, mills, breweries, tortillerias, and others who are doing this work. Our aim is to build a model for regional staple foods by building a web platform for an open source network.”

If you would like to learn more about the ASFC or be part of this important body of work, contact Michelle at