The West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition (The Coalition) is a statewide nonprofit that works to build the local food and agriculture system in West Virginia in a way that provides viable incomes for farmers and local foods businesses and ensures all residents have access to locally produced food. ?The Coalition works towards this goal through policy advocacy, foodshed development, market development, and a variety of programming oriented toward beginning farmers.
To serve the beginning farmer population, in 2017, the Coalition developed WV Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training series (WVCRAFT) as part of the Beginning Farmer Program. WVCRAFT is a farmer-led, peer-to-peer learning program that offers farmers an opportunity to participate in farm tours, trainings, workshops, and roundtable discussions across the state to learn about specific topics and issues concerning sustainable farming practices and connect and network with other farmers. For the past two seasons, WVCRAFT has operated on a statewide basis.
The purpose of this request for funding is to take the WVCRAFT program to its next phase by implementing a series of tours, trainings, and workshops within a small three to four county region, known as a foodshed. Through the Coalition’s Foodshed Development program and framework, five foodsheds will receive technical assistance, resources, and funding to develop the agricultural sector. Implementing WVCRAFT at the foodshed level will work to build and further partnerships that are being developed within the foodshed to spur economic development, foster learning, and grow networks.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project seeks to:
- Support development of local/regional recurring peer-to-peer farmer training/mentoring in five multi-county communities
- Support education, mentorship, and collaboration among farmers to increase the sustainability of farming locally
- Empower the food and farm community to continue organizing educational trainings and events in the future with the aid of a comprehensive toolkit created through this funding opportunity.
The success of these goals will result in:
- 25 farm tour trainings across five foodsheds
- Engaging 250 farmers in training events spanning 17 counties
- Identifying a leader within each community to organize ongoing trainings and events