Local Food in Appalachia

Across Appalachia, communities are building stronger local food systems to revitalize their economies, improve public health, create jobs, and spur entrepreneurship. ARC has identified local food as a targeted investment sector in its 2016–2020 strategic plan.

The Commission has invested in a wide range of activities to support local-food development:

  • Local Foods, Local Places Initiative
    Since 2014, this federal initiative has provided technical assistance to help communities increase economic opportunities for rural farmers and businesses; improve access to healthy local food, and revitalize rural downtowns, main street districts, and neighborhoods. Nationally, 61 communities, over a third of which are in Appalachia, have participated in the initiative.

  • Food LINC Initiative
    ARC has teamed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and national and regional philanthropic partners on the Food LINC initiative to connect demand for local food in urban areas with supply from farmers and ranchers, strengthening regional local food sectors and increasing access to healthy, local food. With ARC's support, Appalachian Sustainable Development hosts a Food LINC coordinator to fortify the local-food supply chain across Appalachia.

  • Bon Appetit Appalachia
    This multi-media campaign showcases hundreds of local-food destinations across the Appalachian Region to increase visibility and encourage agri-tourism in Appalachia. The Bon Appetit Appalachia campaign includes a printed mapguide, a Web-based mapguide, and a podcast series.

  • Appalachian Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour
    The 13-state tour showcased successful food entrepreneurs and businesses, as well as community efforts to support the development of local food systems. ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl was joined during the tour by other funding partners, local policy makers, and elected officials to highlight the economic potential of local food throughout Appalachia.

  • Agriculture and Food System Trends in the Appalachian Region: 2007–2012
    This July 2015 report examines data from the 2012 and 2007 Censuses of Agriculture and related socioeconomic databases to assess and benchmark trends in food and farm activity and food economies in Appalachia's 420 counties. Tabulated statistics include the number and size of farms, direct market sales, agri-tourism, and characteristics of farm operators. The report also provides one-page "snapshots" of each county's food system information that include data on production, retail infrastructure, consumption, access, health, and food equity.

  • Growing the Appalachian Food Economy Conference
    The April 2012 Growing the Appalachian Food Economy conference, held in Asheville, North Carolina, focused on expanding the role of food assets in local economic development strategies.

  • Assessing the Landscape of Local Food in Appalachia Report
    This 2012 report documents the breadth and depth of the local food movement in the Region, best practices and available resources, and opportunities for expanding the local foods sector.

  • Entrepreneurial Appalachia: Case Studies in Evolving Economic Sectors Report
    This 2013 report summarizes entrepreneurial opportunities in the energy, health, manufacturing and local food sectors, and examines innovative projects that demonstrate multiple benefits to Appalachian communities.

Communities that are working to support development of local food systems can learn how to evaluate economic impacts of their investments through the March 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture guide "The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments, and Choices."