For the past two decades, our Sustainable Agriculture program has worked with local farmers and a network of partners to build the food and farming economy in the Mid-Ohio Valley of Ohio and West Virginia. Each year we engage with hundreds of small, diversified farmers and landowners in order to understand their needs and provide the tools they need to increase food production while reducing risk, enhancing profitability, and restoring local ecosystems. At the same time, we’ve expanded a regional network of shared use infrastructure that helps bring beginning farmers to market, including the Chesterhill Produce Auction in Morgan County.
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Our Current Value Chain Projects
Rural Food Hub Development
We work with regional partners to develop food hubs with community support throughout Appalachian Ohio. Food hubs are centralized economic locations that support multiple food producers in a region. Our current projects include the Chesterhill Produce Auction in Morgan County, as well as work on the Nelsonville Food Hub with our longtime partner Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) and the Perry County Farmers Market Cooperative with the Village of Somerset.
Healthy Food Access
We work with local food entrepreneurs to source and deliver healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables to areas with little or no access to fresh foods via Country Fresh Stops.
Farm to Institution
We work to increase local food procurement from K-12 schools, universities, and healthcare providers.
Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative
The Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative (ASFC) team works to develop a robust food system among grain, bean, nut, and oil seed growers, processors, and researchers through collaborations with leaders in our region and across North America. We facilitate peer-to-peer learning groups, mobilize local food access development, and publish a quarterly newsletter, the Staple Pulse. Our Neighbor Loaves (& Meals) project provides Athens County food access programs with nutritious meals using at least 50% local staple bean, grain, and nut crops. We’re also partnering with Shagbark Seed & Mill to develop a model staple seed processing center that’s climate smart, inclusive and replicable.
Local Food Distribution
We accelerate the distribution of local foods into Appalachian Ohio communities by strengthening access, production, and consumption components of a local food value chain.
National Service Members
Each year, Rural Action mobilizes more than 35 energetic and passionate people across the region to help small communities do big things through our Leadership Development and Service program. Our National Service members serve in communities through a yearlong commitment as part of our Appalachian Ohio Restore Corps, an AmeriCorps State/National program administered by Rural Action, or our through our AmeriCorps VISTA program, Rural Renewal. See members who are currently serving with Rural Action here or learn more about how we are growing local leaders here.