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CRC 2020 Summer News Briefs


Turnrow Food Hub

This Spring and Summer, Turnrow Food Hub grew radically and the CRC has been working around the clock to respond. In the face of COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for locally sourced food has quintupled. Turnrow sales grew from $25,000 per-month in 2019 to over $120,000 in 2020, gaining over 200 new customers. In July, Turnrow broke $200,000 in monthly sales and is on target to reach nearly $800,000 in annual sales (1 year earlier than expected). Turnrow is now working with over 100 dedicated farmers. Read more about Turnrow here...

Rural Community Grocery Project

The CRC partnered with the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition to win a $220,000 Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) grant from the USDA in 2019 to support the development of three new independent grocery stores in WV led by local partners. This was the first HFFI grant awarded to a WV organization since the program was established in 2014. Over the course of the last year, the CRC accompanied Blue Ridge Bee Company (Princeton), Rural Route 219 (Pocohontas), and The Public Market (Wheeling) and developed the “Rural Grocer Toolkit.” The toolkit provides communities with a review of national grocery trends, the landscape of food retail in West Virginia, community and neighborhood based grocery models, phases of food business start up, and the importance of local and neighborhood grocery in securing comprehensive food access and security in rural communities. The toolkit is forthcoming in Fall 2020. Learn more about rural community grocery here

Appetite for a Healthier Future

This year the CRC accompanied our partner WVU Family Nutrition to win a $658,000 award “Appetite for a Healthier Future” supporting community food access initiatives in ten West Virginia counties: Barbour, Boone, Cabell, Greenbrier, Lincoln, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Roane, and Upshur. The CRC will provide technical support to project partners and stakeholders while also working with WV Family Nutrition program to collect feedback from participating partners on the grant programs.

Partnership Development

Our Future WV

This Spring, the CRC established a new partnership with Our Future WV (OFWV). Our Future WV “envisions a West Virginia where every child, youth and adult has the justice, dignity and equity needed to thrive.” In the Spring and Summer five CRC students paired up with OFWV organizers to provide research and advocacy support in areas such as housing and homelessness, childcare access and food insecurity. This summer, we launched a pilot research project to better understand West Virginian’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RiffRaff Arts Collective

This Summer the CRC established a new partnership with the Riff Raff Arts Collective based in Princeton, West Virginia. The CRC accompanied Riff Raff to apply for its first federal National Endowment of the Arts grant for $150,000 to launch a new initiative called “We Need To Talk: a movement using music and video to stoke conversation, build bridges and catalyze community healing.” In this project The RiffRaff will co-create music videos and docushorts with local artists to enhance communication, promote civic engagement, and empower youth in Princeton. Learn more about Lori and The RiffRaff here

Sprouting Farms

This Summer the CRC affirmed our long-term partnership with Sprouting Farms. We continue to accompany Sprouting Farms in leadership development, the development and delivery of educational programming on their farm, the development of Turnrow Food Hub, the development of Blue Acre Aquaponics in Mingo County, and the development of the Greenville Kitchen.

Resiliency Railroad (Shanequa Smith)

This Spring and Summer the CRC accompanied grassroots leader Shanequa Smith as she developed the Resiliency Railroad a youth empowerment program designed to nurture the potential of youth of color from disadvantaged backgrounds in WV. The CRC provided $25,000 in seed funding for her project which focuses on the formation of restorative justice circles for parents and the development of programming for children and youth focused on early literacy, mindfulness and moral leadership training for middle schoolers, and providing mentorship for high school youth. Grounded in restorative and racial justice pedagogies and community organizing, in the long haul, her initiative seeks to build a Neighborhood Center in West-Side Charleston that can serve large numbers of parents, children and youth.

The Industrial Commons (Molly Hemstreet)

This Spring the CRC hosted Molly Hemstreet and Bob Carswell of the Industrial Commons, a cluster of textile manufacturing enterprises and democractic workspaces based in Morganton, North Carolina. The CRC and The Industrial Commons (TIC) consulted on lines of action research focused on storytelling as a means of strengthening workplace solidarities within TIC enterprises and a listening project with regional grassroots leaders to envision a 20 year plan for place-based cooperative economic transformation across the South. While COVID-19 stimied a Summer work trip the CRC is excited to continue launching this research partnership over the next six months.

Education and Outreach

Stories of Resilience Listening Project

This Summer we launched a pilot project to better understand West Virginian’s experiences with COVID-19 and racial injustice. The Listening Project: Stories of Resilience in West Virginia, has engaged growing numbers of West Virginians to share stories of strength, struggle, and solidarity and to provide insights on ways we can create change together. In Fall 2020, the CRC will launch a website housing the Listening Project and begin expanding the network of storytelling further with our partners across West Virginia. Check out the Listening Project here...

Take Back Our Health WV!

This Summer, the CRC continued to provide backbone support to a statewide public health coalition called Take Back Our Health WV! The coalition unites public and private stakeholders to design and execute a West Virginia nutrition, physical activity, and chronic disease prevention plan. Some of the key stakeholders include the WV Bureau of Public Health, WV Prevention Research Center, WVU Extension SNAP-ED, and WVU College of Physical Activity Sport Sciences. Take Back Our Health WV! is set to launch in Fall 2020 when stakeholders will begin to utilize a shared website and online tools map, track, share, and celebrate community change.

Food for All WV!

This Summer, the CRC continued its leadership of the Food for All Coalition an advocacy network to ensure the right to nutritious food through outreach with our federal, state, and county level representatives. We have been closely tracking food and hunger issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government’s response through rule changes and additional funding streams to support food access during this time. Over the past 6 months, the CRC has coordinated written letters and joined calls with our state’s federal delegation on the federal stimulus bills and USDA rule changes. We worked alongside West Virginia state administrators at the department of education, the department of health and human services, and the department of agriculture to shape the allocation of millions of dollars in funds earmarked for food and agriculture. We have also spearheaded an unsuccessful bid with Sprouting Farms to bring a multi-million dollar contract to Turnrow Food Hub, Kilmer Farms and the Mountaineer Food Bank to operate the USDA Farmers to Families box program with local farmers in West Virginia. See press coverage of Food for All here…

Appalachian Food Justice Institute

In June, the CRC hosted the second annual Appalachian Food Justice Institute with West Virginia student leaders to learn how they can be agents of change within the food system. This Summer, fifteen students joined the Appalachian Food Justice Institute for a three week, online course. This summer, we were also able to host Dr. Ashante Reese for a virtual session on her book, “Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C.” Given the continued success of the virtual learning approach we aim to host another Appalachian Food Justice Institute during the WVU Winter session and again in Summer 2021. One of our students wrote a reflection on her experience here...

Consciousness Raising Initiative at WVU

This Fall the CRC is co-sponsoring with the WVU Humanities Center and Eberly College a series of critical dialogues on race and racism as part of the first annual Consciousness Raising Initiative. The initiative centers around a series of month long study groups focused on different topics related to race and racism. The CRC will be hosting a study group on Racism and the Food System. Meetings @ 12:00-1:30pm on Fridays (September 25-October 30)

Community Action Research

Foodlink and Nourishing Networks

In July the CRC presented the Foodlink and Nourishing Networks program - a ground up community healthy food access planning approach - to a high profile national audience of USDA program officers through the office of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) - Local Food Systems Advisory Council. There were more than 50 USDA officers on the call including the regional director. Building on this momentum the CRC developed online training modules for the roll-out of virtual Nourishing Networks programming with community leaders in the Fall 2020. To see our curriculum check it out here...


This Spring the CRC publicly released the Healthlink project website ( to highlight health access disparities throughout West Virginia through a web mapping portal. Healthink team also developed and launched a mapping and data dashboard that tracks the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia. Since May the primary care access map and the COVID-19 dashboard have been hosted on the Healthlink website. Through Summer the team was actively working to keep the COVID-19 dashboard up to date. To see the Healthlink dashboard link here...


Safe, clean, and reliable water is fundamental to human existence and critical for promulgating healthy communities and economies. This Summer CRC launched Waterlink, a new project to democratize water governance in West Virginia by shedding light on the condition of community-based water resources throughout the state. Waterlink focuses specifically on drinking water safety, flood vulnerability, and exposure to toxic releases, seen through the lens of environmental justice. The Waterlink team is currently building a county-level atlas of water security for each of the 55 counties in West Virginia. In Fall 2020, we will launch Waterlink as a website.

Racial Justice Research Grants at WVU

This Summer the CRC co-sponsored, with the WVU Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, a new initiative to fund research projects related to racial justice and the historical, economic, educational, social, scientific, structural, and transnational implications of race, racism, and anti-blackness. A review committee is now evaluating innovative research projects that take up the question "what does it mean to (not) matter." To learn more check out the Eberly College Racial Justice Grants page.