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Stories of Community Food Work in Appalachia: Opening Space for Storytelling and Learning

Stories of Community Food Work in Appalachia initiative was launched to create and share narratives or “stories” that express the diverse experiences of people working for food systems change, and include the voices of organizers and practitioners from across western North Carolina, southwest Virginia, and West Virginia. The impetus for creating regional narratives comes from the practitioners themselves who are eager to create a regional network yet struggle with the formative process of crafting and weaving their stories and actions together. In many ways, the crafting and sharing of personal narratives of community food work has been most important as a way to create hope, possibility, and a shared understanding of our everyday lived experiences for continued learning and community building. These narratives are also a personal testament to the triumphs and challenges of community food work in the region. They are meant to be spaces for learning for all who read them, and the extent of their use and meaning go as far as our imaginations can take them. We invite you to spend some time engaging with these stories while also reflecting on your own. 

Soil, Conservation, and Place

This educational project aims to deepen community understanding of the importance of agriculture and soils to a sense of place, community, and culture. The project highlights the distinct voices and diverse farms of Virginia’s agricultural community who are protecting and conserving soil and water resources through a narrative inquiry framework. The project is generously funded and supported by a community viability grant from Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education and the Agua Fund.

Catalyzing Agricultural and Educational Resources to Move the Local Food Value Chain Needle in the Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont Regions of Virginia

This project is focused in the Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont regions of Virginia and seeks to increase promotion of local and regional foods produced and marketed by small and mid-sized farms and food businesses, such as produce auctions, farm stands/markets, aggregators, and distributors. A number of barriers exist for farmers and food businesses, including limited or unwieldy value chain coordination, logistical hurdles, lack of transparent market signals, and inadequate scale, match and fit between producers and buyers. In addition to increasing promotion of local and regional foods, this project aims to advance producer-buyer relationships, enhance the distribution and delivery of local foods to schools, measure how consumers value soil health and water quality farming practices, and evaluate improvements to market access, share, and logistics of regional value chain coordination.

Virginia Farm to Table Initiative

Virginia Farm to Table is an initiative and program to promote and develop healthy farms and healthy food for the common wealth and common good of all Virginians.  This initiative and program is a collaborative effort of Virginia Cooperative ExtensionVirginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life SciencesVirginia State UniversityUniversity of Virginia, the Virginia Food System Council and partner organizations, for  strengthening Virginia’s economic future and food system from the farm to the table. These organizations and partners have developed a Virginia Farm-to-Table Plan and host annual Virginia-Farm-To-Table Conferences as one way to keep the momentum going and continue to shepherd the recommendations of the Plan.

4 the Soil: A Conversation

Listen in to our podcast as we unlock the mysteries of soil by speaking with people at the forefront of the soil health movement. Hear and learn from farmers, agricultural professionals, conservation leaders, master gardeners, and many more on how and why to be 4 The Soil. 

Special Events and Speakers

There are a number of other events that the Center hosts and promotes. This may include speaking events featuring influential speakers from across the food system, or workshops addressing issues that we face in the food system every day. Keep an eye out here for events near you.