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 news of the plots made it clear that people wanted to buy local grains and beans, 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.

Fast forward 11 years 🕒

In August 2019, Michelle Ajamian joined our Sustainable Agriculture Program as ASFC’s Network Manager to develop a climate-smart and inclusive network strategy around staple seed crops. Our activities in 2020 include our work with the USDA and Shagbark Seed & Mill on feasibility analysis for a Staple Seed Crop Processing Center in Appalachia. Our goal is to build a model facility for shared infrastructure and services to streamline shipping and receiving, storage, packaging, and seed cleaning that will support established businesses and startups that use grain, beans, nuts and oil seed in their final products.

Key to our work is building collaborations with other regions through the North American Staples Network (NASN). Goals include the development of quarterly peer-to-peer learning calls, newsletters, mapping, and research around growing and processing staple seed crops.

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