Appalachian Harvest Network
At A Glance
|Where:||Abingdon, Virginia (serving Appalachian Virginia and Tennessee)|
|What:||Farm-to-market cooperative, farmer training and incubation|
|Number of employees:||35 (2008)|
“How can we create a system that puts money in farmers’ pockets and puts good food on the table in an environmentally sustainable way?” asks Anthony Flaccavento, the executive director of Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD). His answer, for dozens of farmers in southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee, has been a program called the Appalachian Harvest Network (AHN).
AHN has helped local farmers transform their old rows of tobacco, once their signature crop, into thriving organic fruit and vegetable fields. And it has brought these farmers into a new distribution system with major retailers and grocers in the region. AHN values action over research and opens new economic opportunities for local farmers. “We had the ‘wrong’ demographics for sustainable and organic,” says Anthony, “but there was also a real need to support farmers and improve health behaviors. We have taken an organic and sustainable food desert and plowed ground and cultivated a bit. In this region, we are used to being behind the curve. But we were ahead of the local food movement and growing national consciousness about local and fair and organic food.”