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Appalachian Sustainable Development awarded $20K grant from Grow Appalachia

Appalachian Sustainable Development has been awarded $20,000 from Grow Appalachia.

This grant can now be used to expand ASD’s Grow Your Own program, which is in its seventh year and empowers families to grow their own food and earn income from home-grown produce sales, said ASD’s marketing director, Sylvia Crum.

“This grant funding is important because it funds work in Appalachia and not everyone does,” Crum said. “This funder is out of Berea, Kentucky, so they, too, are in Appalachia and have a good understanding of the challenges folks here face.”

Since 2012, participants in the Grow Your Own program have produced more than 140,000 pounds of produce, Crum said. For this, ASD provides seasonally appropriate training, technical support, seeds, plants, tools and tilling services to program participants. Hands-on workshops teach families basic nutrition, how to plan, plant, grow, cook and preserve home-grown produce. Market gardening families learn how to supplement their income through sales of their harvests, according to Crum. Home gardeners also grow food for their households and share their bounty with neighbors and local food banks, Crum said.

“We are expanding to give folks more ways to participate and help us grow the program,” said Chelsea Goulding, ASD’s agriculture education program manager.

“By doing so, they see how and where they can fit into the local food system,” Goulding said. “As we look forward, all of our food access programs will have a focus on ‘a lifetime of healthy eating.’ We will meet folks where they are and provide them with effective tools for health, wellness and financial success.”

Thanks to the grant money, in 2020, the expanded program will include activities and opportunities designed to give participants more entrepreneurial experience, increased networking opportunities and bridges to employment in the agriculture field, Crum said. In turn, ASD will recruit 20 families that will attend a variety of workshops and demonstrations at one of two teaching sites at Abingdon Faith in Action (FIA) Demonstration Garden and the Sullivan County Public Library Community Garden, Crum said.