Stecoah Kitchen Entrepreneurship - Agri-Tourism Project

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2007: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Beth Fields
Stecoah Valley Arts, Crafts and Educational Center
Beth Fields
Stecoah Valley Arts, Crafts & Educational Center, Inc.


  • Agronomic: corn, potatoes, rice
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, berries (other), berries (cranberries), cherries, citrus, melons, peaches, pears, pineapples, berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, celery, cucurbits, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals
  • Animals: bees, poultry, swine, fish
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, study circle, workshop
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, community services, social networks, sustainability measures, community development

    Proposal abstract:

    Stecoah Valley Arts, Crafts & Educational Center is located in Graham County, North Carolina. Situated in the far western Appalachian mountains, Graham County is remote, distressed and small, with fewer than 8,000 permanent residents. The steep mountainous terrain and narrow twisting roads have hindered economic, educational and cultural growth opportunities, leaving Graham County in rural isolation. However, this same untouched environment houses a wealth of natural and cultural heritage. With over 70% of its land owned by federal agencies, the county often struggles to balance the need for economic growth with the desire to protect its natural and cultural heritage. This project addresses both the need for economic growth while simultaneously supporting our natural and cultural heritage. Stecoah Valley Center itself is housed in the restored old rock school building that served as the center of the community from 1926 until it closed in 1994. It offers the perfect setting for an authentic cultural heritage tourism experience. Recognized as Graham County's leader in cultural arts, the Center already offers tourists the opportunity to experience Appalachian food, music, arts, and culture through its many activities including the Stecoah kitchen, Artisans Gallery, summer concert/dinner series, three annual festivals, classes and more. It has focused on supporting the agricultural community for the past two years with its shared use commercial kitchen facility. This project will take advantage of the opportunity to utilize the Center's facilities and to build on the strength of the Center's existing position in the local community and region. The Stecoah Kitchen Entrepreneurship & Agri-tourism Project will help improve local and regional economic conditions through a variety of food-related services, activities and events. First, the existing shared-use commercial kitchen facility project (commonly known as Stecoah Valley Food Ventures) will continue to provide the tools necessary for farmers and food entrepreneurs to profitably produce value-added agricultural products. This part of the project offers the opportunity for individual entrepreneurial success while sustaining the agricultural community and heritage of the area. Second, a new Heritage Foods series that focuses on traditional Appalachian foods and foodways will be offered as a part of this project. This series will include cooking classes taught in our commercial kitchen and other venues, as well as other food-related classes taught in both indoor and “outdoor classroom” settings. The third part of the project includes special events such as the Appalachian Dinner Series, Country Fair and a new Wildlife Festival that will also focus on our mountain traditions and will kindle a renewed interest in local foods and foodways. Both the classes and events will be planned to help attract and keep cultural/heritage and agri-tourists in the local area. The results of the project will be an increase in local entrepreneurship, new growth in tourism as a sustainable revenue source and continued support for the agricultural community.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The project includes three major objectives to help improve local economic conditions:

    1. To provide farmers, growers and food entrepreneurs the tools necessary to profitably engage in a food-based small business, i.e. to produce and sell value-added agricultural or nature-based products.
    2. To provide cultural/heritage and agri-tourists food and nature based educational opportunities through kitchen cooking, typical classroom and outdoor classroom experiences.
    3. To provide cultural/heritage and agri-tourists other opportunities to experience food-based or agriculture related activities through special events such as the Appalachian Dinner Series, Country Fair and the new Wildlife Festival.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.