Eight Appalachian Communities are Winners of National “Local Foods, Local Places” Grant Competition
WHEELING, West Virginia, December 3, 2014—Eight Appalachian communities are among the 26 selected nationwide as winners of the federal Local Foods, Local Places grant competition, which will provide communities with technical assistance and implementation support to help them integrate local food systems into their economic development action plans. The winners, chosen from among more than 300 applicants, were announced at an event today by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Doug O'Brien, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Sustainable Communities Program Manager Ed Fendley, and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl on behalf of the White House Rural Council.
The interagency Local Foods, Local Places initiative was established in June to help create more livable places by promoting local foods. Partnering agencies include ARC, USDA, EPA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Delta Regional Authority, which together have invested more than $750,000 in the program to encourage creative economic development focused on the local food economy and downtown revitalization. Through the initiative, a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, and regional economic experts will work directly with communities to develop comprehensive strategies for local food systems that will help boost economic opportunities for rural farmers and businesses; improve access to healthy, locally produced food; and revitalize rural downtowns, main street districts, and neighborhoods.
ARC funds will support implementation of the action plans developed by the Appalachian communities through the competition. "Appalachian communities recognize the role that food systems can play in downtown development and revitalization," Gohl said. "Local Foods, Local Places will provide the technical resources to take ideas and put them into a plan, and ARC is pleased to provide the funding that will support implementation of the plans developed by the eight Appalachian communities."
The winning communities are as follows:
- Wheeling, West Virginia, was selected for its plan to develop an historic vineyard adjacent to the city's downtown area into a productive public asset, along with broader plans to transform Wheeling into a regional hub for local food.
- Youngstown, Ohio, was selected for its interest in integrating its local food movement into the larger neighborhood revitalization efforts currently under way in the city.
- Williamson, West Virginia, was selected for its project to establish a "health innovation hub," a holistic strategy to build a culture of health and wellness in the community.
- Hazard, Kentucky, was selected for a project to establish and sustain the Eastern Kentucky Food and Farm Hub, a local food aggregation and distribution center in downtown Hazard that will serve an area within a 50-mile radius.
- Barbourville, Kentucky, was selected for its project to expand its current farmers market operation into a permanent facility for use by local farmers, gardeners, crafters, and entrepreneurs, as well as community organizations.
- Forest County, Pennsylvania, was selected for its interest in connecting downtown revitalization efforts in Tionesta and Marienville with the area's rich agricultural heritage.
- Grundy County (Tracy City), Tennessee, was selected for its interest in developing a comprehensive regional plan to connect organizations and stakeholders involved in the region's local food economy.
- Tuskegee, Alabama, was selected for its project to pursue economic development and food security goals through downtown revitalization and regional marketing initiatives.