A $35,000 grant from The Community Foundation’s Food and Farming Focus Area will support a major expansion of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s (ASAP) Appalachian Grown regional food branding and certification program. Appalachian Grown labels and promotes locallygrown farm products in the marketplace to enable consumers to easily identify and act on their desire to support local food and farmers.
ASAP launched the Local Food Campaign in 2000 to build markets for locally-grown food. With increasing demand in 2006, ASAP launched the Appalachian Grown program to engage larger-scale markets in the region and increase distribution and availability. In 2012, sales of Appalachian Grown certified products exceeded $100 million.
“The Appalachian Grown effort addresses sustainability and economic development across our region,” said Senior Program Officer Tim Richards. “The expansion of this proven program will contribute to the revitalization of our food system and maximize opportunities for local farmers and food entrepreneurs.”
The plan for growth includes a campaign to increase the visibility of the logo and drive consumers to markets that stock local produce and products. These and other efforts, including consumer education and a bulk purchasing program for cooperative marketing materials, will be conducted in tandem with branding for farms and cooperative farm groups.
The program ties sales of local foods to the region’s farms, protecting the integrity of the market and providing consumers with a trusted brand. Since 2007, the first full year of the effort, participation has increased by more than 60 percent. In 2012, 560 farms are certified and 300 individual businesses are participating.
In 2011, The Community Foundation adopted a new strategic plan that focuses discretionary resources on People in Need, Early Childhood Development, Food and Farming and Preserving Natural and Cultural Resources.
The Community Foundation is a nonprofit serving 18 counties in Western North Carolina. The Foundation is a permanent regional resource that facilitates more than $11 million in charitable giving annually. CFWNC inspires philanthropy and mobilizes resources to enrich lives and communities in Western North Carolina. More information can be found at www.cfwnc.org.