FARMERS AND FOOD ENTREPRENEURS

Local Food Matters

What are the opportunities for new businesses in the meat industry in our region?
Beefing Up Appalachia (PDF)
“Beefing Up Appalachia” combines national and state-level data with insights from producer, meat processor, and retailer surveys to explore the challenges and opportunities in niche meat production in the West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and Southern Ohio. Value-added meat products offer a number of perks for producers in the region: They offer a high dollar value, are more shelf-stable, and can easily be sold outside the region. Yet, while niche meat production in the region has expanded, a lack of value-added niche meat products such as bacon, sausages, cured hams, and other meats persists. Unlimited Future developed this project to survey the state of local and niche meat production and identify strategies to help increase the retail value of these products. Funding for this study was provided by the Just Transition Fund and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

What if West Virginia farmers grew enough vegetables and fruit to meet the state’s demand?
West Virginia Food System: Seasonal production expansion and its impacts (PDF)
A strong, regionally-based food system can become a substantial source of economic growth for rural communities and cities. As support for local food continues to grow, citizens, business people, farmers, extension agents, agencies, and nonprofits have begun to strategize about how West Virginia could better meet its own consumer demand for food. What if West Virginia farmers grew enough vegetables and fruits to meet the fresh seasonal needs of all West Virginians? How much land would be required? What would be the economic effects of making these changes? This 2014 study describes current agricultural production and explores the land resource and economic impacts of expanded vegetable and fruit production using geospatial and economic modeling software. By helping us to understand our current realities and to envision short-term agricultural growth, this information will stimulate further conversation about how best to support West Virginia agriculture.

Can Tri-State Farmers make more income by growing in a High Tunnel?
High Tunnel Growing: Is it Right for Me? (PDF)
In 2014, Unlimited Future was awarded a Northeast Sustainable Research and Education grant to investigate the use of high tunnels to address the consistency of local produce available in the Tri-State. This report summarizes our research project and integrates basic values based business decision making that is taught through our business startup course, Planning for Profit. Since 2014, Unlimited Future has increased the partnerships and connections with agriculture services providers and internally increased capacity to help farmers grow their businesses. Unlimited Future is involved in projects that create new markets for farmers and address systematic challenges to accessing markets and processing. The Local Food Movement continues to grow in the Mid-Ohio River Valley bolstered by strong partnerships between farmers, service providers, markets, and consumers

Could West Virginia create a sustainable distribution system for local food?
HUB Connectivity Feasibility Assessment (PDF)
West Virginia has made great strides in redeveloping the local food economy over the past decade. Locally grown food is now available in most counties and there are over 25 food hubs and aggregation projects devoted to connecting West Virginia products to consumers. A question that remains is how to support partnerships within the existing food infrastructure? What are the opportunities in creating potential consortia and efficiencies in local food distribution? This study builds on existing research and a distributor survey—conducted in summer of 2015—to provide an overview of inter-food-hub and distributor relationships. The results identify communities in West Virginia that show high probability for success in ongoing and future local food development efforts and include a case study of how a new strategy for local food consortia could work.