Paul Patton joined Rural Action in 2019 as Social Enterprise Director and was promoted to Chief Innovation Officer in 2022. Paul provides technical and development assistance to Rural Action’s seven social enterprises — Zero Waste Event Productions, Chesterhill Produce Auction, Appalachian Understories, UpCycle Ohio Thrift Store, Community Makerspace, True Pigments, LLC , and the Native Plant Nursery — and evaluates opportunities for the development of new ventures.
Before joining the Rural Action, Paul worked with Rural Action’s Sustainable Agriculture team through the Initiative for Appalachian Food and Culture. He serves on the Board of Directors for Wisteria Event Site in Meigs County, one of the venues where Zero Waste Event Productions got its start.
Paul received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Ohio State University and an MS in Environmental Studies from Ohio University. His academic training focused on understanding and documenting food systems and crop varieties of the Appalachian region, the domestication of native plants by first peoples in the Ohio Valley, and the diversification of modern food systems through the integration of traditional knowledge. Paul’s research has been featured in both regional and international journals and publications.