ABINGDON — Regional nonprofit Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) announced earlier this week that it received a $50,000 anonymous donation to assist with farmer education efforts and operations at its food distribution hub in Scott County.
The Duffield distribution hub, which is known as Appalachian Harvest, is designed to help farmers with limited resources stay on their land by connecting them with retail outlets.
ASD Executive Director Kathyln Terry said the organization wasn’t sure where the donated funds came from.
“We don’t have any idea who it is or where they are, geographically or anything,” Terry said. “Obviously we’re very grateful for the support. The main thing that we know is that they really do like and appreciate our work in agriculture. That’s a particular area of interest for them. It’s wonderful to get this donation, but you’d obviously love to know more about them and thank them in person for the support.”
Terry also praised the timing of the donation.
“This gift couldn’t come at a better time,” she said. “Because of the nature of our work and the connection we have to the weather, growing seasons and expenses, in June and July we often see a cash flow crunch. This support will help us immensely.”
In addition to providing a centralized food distribution center, Terry said Appalachian Harvest also works with certified local farmers to provide training, assistance, marketing, aggregation and distribution infrastructure.
“The bulk of the funds will go to the food hub, but this money also allows us to go to these farmers and help them with things they might need to access a market,” Terry said. “If you sell to a grocery store you need ‘Good Agriculture Practices’ certification, which is expensive to get and takes a lot of training. So we can use these funds to remove some of those barriers for farmers.”
Since its inception in 2001, Terry said Appalachian Harvest has generated over $6 million in revenue by helping farmers connect with new markets and large grocery outlets, such as Ingles and Whole Foods.
“Appalachian Harvest provides our farmers in the region with markets that would be really costly for them to access on their own,” Terry said. “So if you don’t produce enough to be able to transport it to a large market, we provide that service for them. It lets us spread the cost of distribution between several farmers.”
Terry said ASD is a not-for-profit that works in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. Formed in 1995, its mission focuses on creating, promoting and expanding economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible opportunities to help improve lives and the health of local communities.