Sprouting Farms: Growing West Virginia’s Local Food Economy

First conceptualized in 2014, Sprouting Farms‘ mission is to help farmers realize economic opportunities in the New and Greenbrier River Valleys by accessing land and capital, building assets, and developing successful business plans. In 2016, with support via ARC’s POWER Initiative to diversify the Region’s coal-impacted communities, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) in partnership with the Robert C. Byrd Institute and other local development organizations invested in the farm’s 82-acre enterprise to build 20 acres of crop and high tunnel land, and designate more than 60 acres of rolling pasture.

In 2019, an additional ARC POWER grant enabled Sprouting Farms to forge a partnership with Refresh Appalachia and other local food enterprises to create a network of Agri-Development Centers. Each Center focuses on building a sustainable pipeline of skilled farmers and producers to scale local agricultural production and meet market demands. Sprouting Farms is also working with local partners to develop a wholesale production incubator program for new and beginning farmers; prepare local farmers for food safety and handling certifications, integrate existing post-production and culinary workforce training programs for youth and adults in recovery and/or re-entering the workforce; and develop replicable food enterprise business models. Sprouting Farms is also part of the Central Appalachian Food Corridor, which uses ARC support to cultivate a network of farmers, producers, distributors, processors and other actors in the Region’s local food system