Specialty Food Businesses, Farm-to-School Programs a Focus of Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour in Ohio
|ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl (center) and USDA Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O'Brien (center left) listen to Rural Action Executive Director Michelle Decker at the Chesterhill Produce Auction in Morgan County, Ohio. With the help of an ARC grant, Rural Action purchased the auction in April 2010 to continue its operations and grow it into a sustainable, community based local foods venue. (Photo by Guy Land/ARC)|
ARC's ongoing Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour continued with a visit to Appalachian Ohio June 3–5, highlighting specialty food businesses and farm-to-school programs, and examining issues of aggregation and scale in creating a sustainable local food economy.
ARC officials were joined by USDA Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O'Brien for segments of the tour, as well as by representatives of the Ohio Governor's Office of Appalachia and the Buckeye Hills–Hocking Valley Regional Development District. The three-day tour included visits to the Nelsonville Entrepreneurial Center and Business Incubator, a facility operated by the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet); the Chesterhill Produce Auction in Morgan County; and the ACENet Food Manufacturing and Commercial Kitchen Facility in Athens.
Tour participants also learned about the Rural Action farm-to-school program at a visit to Federal Hocking High School in Stewart, and discussed farm business training at Amesville's Green Edge Gardens, a family-owned organic farm.O'Brien blogged about the Ohio tour, as well as about the May 2013 West Virginia tour—in which Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Joani Walsh participated—on USDA's blog.
|The Ohio tour included a June 5 visit to Green Edge Gardens, a family-owned organic farm in Amesville, to discuss farm business training and approaches to season extension. (Photo by Guy Land/ARC)|
ARC launched the Appalachian Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour in Asheville, North Carolina, on March 20 at a conference of the Appalachia Funders Network, an informal association of national, regional, and local foundations that has identified local food systems as a priority for funding. The tour has since then included visits to West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, in addition to Ohio. A June 25–28 visit is planned for Appalachian New York.