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ARC Launches Appalachian Foodways Tour at Appalachia Funders Network Conference

March 2013


ASHEVILLE, North Carolina, March 20, 2013—The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has announced the launch of a 13-state Appalachian foodways tour highlighting the potential of local food systems to create economic opportunity and grow jobs. ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl announced the launch at a site visit to Smoking J's Fiery Foods and Farm, an event held as part of the 2013 Appalachia Funders Network Conference, which highlighted Asheville as a model of economic innovation.

During the site visit, owner Joel Mowrey explained his role as a food entrepreneur. Said Gohl, "What we have here is a really great example of an ambitious entrepreneur and farmer who also has a great supporting entrepreneurial ecosystem. What we're trying to figure out is how to replicate these types of efforts all over the Region . . . how do we strengthen the entrepreneurial system to support ambitious entrepreneurs no matter where they are in Appalachia."

The goal of the foodways tour is to promote a thoughtful and engaged regional conversation about how Appalachia's communities can seize the opportunities local food systems offer to spur economic growth. The tour will:

  • highlight the economic opportunity being created by local foods systems;
  • identify barriers that have been overcome or that remain in building local food systems;
  • determine what can be done in partnership that can't be done separately.

Gohl underscored the far-reaching potential of the local food economy, noting that "throughout the Region, there is incredible energy around local food systems and the entrepreneurs and supporters that drive them."

During the tour, Gohl will invite other funding partners, local policy makers, and elected officials to join him in highlighting the work that communities of all sizes are doing throughout Appalachia.

ARC has funded a rich array of foodways activities in every Appalachian state, investing $7.6 million in food systems–related projects since 2001. These projects have helped to foster all the elements of a robust food system, including infrastructure, entrepreneurship, access to capital, export promotion, health and wellness, workforce development, local capacity building, and telecommunications and technology.