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Growing the Appalachian Food Economy:
A Forum on Local Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture

April 3–4, 2012 • Renaissance Asheville Hotel • Asheville, North Carolina

An Appalachian Regional Commission Conference
Co-Sponsored by USDA Rural Development, the Ford Foundation,
the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and the Appalachia Funders Network
Hosted by the State of North Carolina

A fast-growing demand for local food and the need for economic diversification today are moving Appalachian communities to use their food assets and sustainable agriculture in creative ways to help revitalize their economies. By providing support for local food systems, community leaders can help build stronger links between producers and consumers, keeping more income and wealth in the local economy.

To help expand the role of food assets in local economic development in Appalachia, ARC hosted a forum on local food systems and sustainable agriculture on April 3–4, 2012, in Asheville, North Carolina. The forum provided an opportunity for community leaders; economic development officials; farmers; food producers, processors, and distributors; and public and private funding partners to share ideas and learn practical ways local food systems can increase employment opportunities, spark entrepreneurial ventures, and build local wealth in Appalachian communities.

Forum summary and proceedings (PDF: 1.4 MB)
Full forum program (PDF: 975 KB)
Forum agenda
Conference handout: Assessing the Landscape of Local Food in Appalachia, Executive Summary (PDF: 4 MB)
View the full report: Assessing the Landscape of Local Food in Appalachia (PDF: 650 KB)

Video of April 3 Morning Events

The forum's Tuesday morning events, beginning at 8:30 a.m., were streamed live from the forum. To watch the video, go to

Media Coverage

Asheville Citizen-Times op-ed by ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl, April 2, 2012
Asheville Citizen-Times article, March 31, 2012

Conference Presentations

Presentations are posted with the permission of conference speakers. This list does not include all presentations given at the conference.

Concurrent Sessions I: Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Models of Innovation: Educational Institutions as Incubation Hubs and Centers for Sustainability
  • Walter Hill, Dean, College of Agricultural, Environmental, and Natural Sciences, and Director, George Washington Carver Agricultural Experiment Station, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama: PDF: 2.5 MB
  • Meagan Roberts, Instructor, Horticulture Technology and Sustainable Agriculture, Western Piedmont Community College, Morganton, North Carolina: PDF: 834 KB
  • Terry Tucker, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, and Director, Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture, Alfred State College, Alfred, New York: PDF: 2.1 MB
Food Heritage and Culinary Arts as Economic Drivers
  • Christine Gyovai, Associate, Institute for Environmental Negotiation, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia: PDF: 2.4 MB
  • Rosann Kent, Program Manager, Georgia Appalachian Studies Center, North Georgia College and State University, Dahlonega, Georgia: PDF: 1.5 MB
Marketing and Branding: Improving the Viability and Integrity of Local Food Markets
  • Peter Marks, Program Director, Local Food Campaign, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Asheville, North Carolina: PDF: 3.6 MB

Concurrent Sessions II: Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Developing Shared-Use Food Processing Centers
  • Leslie Schaller, Director of Programming, Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, Athens, Ohio: PDF: 5.9 MB
Local and Sustainable Meat and Meat Processing
  • Casey McKissick, Farmer; Coordinator, NC Choices, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, Old Fort, North Carolina: PDF: 2.2 MB
Models of Sustainability: The Role of the "Agripreneur"
  • Travis Edgerton, Manager, Farmers Fresh Market, Rutherfordton, North Carolina: PDF: 146 KB
  • Dale Hawkins, Chef and Farmer, Fish Hawk Acres; Founder, New Appalachian Farm and Research Center, Rock Cave, West Virginia: PDF: 8.9 MB
  • Michael Porterfield, Farmer and Founder, New Sprout Organic Farms, Asheville, North Carolina: PDF: 637 KB

Concurrent Sessions III: Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Innovative Financing Programs and Ideas for Farmers and Food Producers
  • Carol Peppe Hewitt, Co-Founder, Slow Money NC: PDF: 1.8 MB
  • Mark Kudlowitz, Associate Program Manager, Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Washington, D.C.: PDF: 1.1 MB
  • Anna Tefft, Director of Lending and North Carolina Senior Business Lender, Natural Capital Investment Fund, Inc., Winston-Salem, North Carolina: PDF: 300 KB
Increasing Access to Healthy Food
  • Nikki D'Adamo-Damery, Coordinator, Appalachian Foodshed Project, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia: PDF: 828 KB
  • David Holben, Professor, School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio: PDF: 1.7 MB
  • Kathlyn Terry, Executive Director, Appalachian Sustainable Development, Abingdon, Virginia: PDF: 2.1 MB
Agritourism: Economic Opportunities for Local Farmers and Communities
  • Mary Jeanne Packer, President, Ghostwriters Communications, Watkins Glen, New York: PDF: 1.7 MB