Sprouting Farms, a partner of WVU Center for Resilient Communities, was recently awarded two grants from the United States Department of Agriculture to support the Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective. The project “Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective: Scaling and Integrating a Statewide Hub-to-Hub Network” was awarded $498,190, from the USDA Local Food Promotion Program to create a hub to hub food distribution network. This network will expand the clusters of food hub services, technical training, processing, producer outreach and inclusion, and ultimately increase sales. The network will consist of partner organizations from West Virginia and Maryland. The network will include Sprouting Farms, Refresh Appalachia, New Roots Community Farm, Williamson Farmers Market, Garrett Growers, Lewis Co Farmers Market and Montcroft Farm.
In 2020, Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective’s food hub sales grew over 180%, from a year ago. Their sales increased from approximately $157,000 to nearly $440,000.
“Sprouting Farms is excited to work with our project partners to continue growing markets in Central Appalachia,” said April Koenig, Executive Director of Spouting Farms. "We plan to use these funds to support more farmers in more regions of West Virginia, expanding a statewide aggregation, sales, and distribution network to facilitate the growth of a more localized food system in Central Appalachia.”
A second USDA award of $1.3 million dollars to Appalachian Sustainable Development also supports the development of Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective through the project “Expanding Food and Agriculture Value Chains in Central Appalachia by Creating a Multi Stakeholder Cooperative.” As a partner in the grant, Sprouting Farms partnered with four other innovative local food distribution cooperatives to address the needs of underserved farmers, processors and rural communities in low wealth and depopulated counties in six states which will include Sprouting Farms, Refresh Appalachia, Appalachian Sustainable Development, Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, CFA, and KCARD. Each partner brings unique expertise, shared values, and tested approaches to reframe a regional food system that ensure access to healthy, local food through equitable supply chains that create viable, rural livelihoods for producers and processors.
“My job is to bring together Sprouting Farms and organizations in the Turnrow network to create a sustainably operated food hub that places power and equity back into the hands of the producer; bridging locally grown products with a diverse set of markets,” Fritz Boettner, the WVU Center for Resilient Communities Food Systems Director. "Turnrow is building a real, practical business model that creates a more resilient food system for small Appalachia farmers. Both of the grants continue to fund a diverse group of stakeholders and to grow market sectors; resulting in greater profitability for our farmers in the Mountain State.”
The Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective project has been incubated through an innovative partnership between Sprouting Farms and the WVU Center for Resilient Communities, housed in the Department of Geology and Geography in the Eberly College of Arts and Science. Sprouting Farms and the Center for Resilient Communities have worked in partnership for three years to advance education, agriculture and food system change. “Sprouting Farms and other partners have raised the Turnrow food hub from the ground up and are now poised to transform the agriculture community and our food system in West Virginia,” remarked Dr. Bradley Wilson, Executive Director of the WVU Center for Resilient Communities. “We are inspired by this hard work, engagement from the USDA and regional partners, and we will continue to bring WVU and partners like the One Foundation together to ensure the success of Turnrow.”