Local Food

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

To help decrease the spread of COVID-19, residents across the country, and here in West Virginia, are being asked to stay home, except to get the essentials such as food and medicine. Although the National Grocers Association assures there’s not a food shortage in the U.S., some store shelves are sparse. 

 

As spring unfolds across the Mountain State, the pandemic is driving an influx of West Virginians back to the garden and to some of the state’s local farmers. 

 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the coronavirus is sending droves of West Virginians to their gardens. We also speak with Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Eric Ayre about his new book.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

 


On a recent Monday, students at James Monroe High School in Monroe County eat french bread pizza, corn, beans and mixed fruit. They also have three, locally sourced salad options to choose from: a spinach salad with bright red cherry tomatoes, a pre-made salad or a make-you-own salad bar.

"We hear that these foods look so much better, put together," said Kimberly Gusler, the high school's head cook. She said that since the school began using local salad greens and vegetables and fruits when available, students appear to be eating more of them.

"They love the way the salads look.”

We turn our attention to agriculture needs in West Virginia. Host Suzanne Higgins chats with Jennifer Greenlief, Assistant Commissioner at the West Virginia Department of Agriculture about the hemp industry in West Virginia, agriculture jobs, and funding needs to the department’s facilities.

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear about the growing culture around Appalachian food, and we’ll explore the latest happenings in politics with another installment of “Red State Blue State.”

chickens, Hopecrest, Hopecrest chickens, grapes, Tracey Lea Frisch
Anne Li / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Tracey Lea Frisch loves her pet chickens, which she keeps in her yard on the side of her house in the Hopecrest neighborhood in Morgantown. 

 

“This is Pudding and Vanilla and Mr. Looster and Lucky and Star and Moonlight and that’s Roadrunner, and that’s Fluffy - the big one,” she said as she fed them grapes. “I have one broody; she’s pretending to have chicks. It’s not going to happen.” 

 

Roxy Todd

What does a Cornbread Festival in Tennessee, a Paw Paw festival in Ohio and the Hatfield McCoy Moonshine Distillery in West Virginia all have in common? They’re among hundreds of destinations featured on a map called Bon Appétit Appalachia. The map features Appalachian restaurants, wineries, and festivals serving locally sourced food has just been updated with more listings by The Appalachian Regional Commission. The map has 62 regional food destinations in West Virginia. 

Chuck Kleine / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A local-food nonprofit based in the Northern Panhandle is busy this week reclaiming abandoned property. 

“Once upon a time this was the Lincoln Home site,” said a founder of Grow Ohio Valley, Danny Swan. “There were three apartment buildings here with a parking lot. We’ve taken the parking lot and the three apartment buildings - which were torn down decades ago - and we’ve reclaimed those two terraces. Each are about 40 feet wide and about 200 or 300 feet long. And we plan to build greenhouses on them.”

Jessica Lilly

Food deserts are a growing problem in West Virginia and across the country. The USDA defines a food desert as a part of the country where people don’t have access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods. Parts of more than 40 counties in West Virginia endure some sort of limited food access and the number is growing as more and more grocery stores close their doors. But when the grocery store in one Greenbrier County town closed, the community worked to find local resources with hopes of becoming self-sufficient.


www.facebook.com/thevagabondkitchen

Chef Matt Welsch is a local boy who, after touring the country on a motorcycle (writing a travel-cuisine blog about being a vagabond chef), returned to his hometown and set up shop.


Grow Ohio Valley

Eight Appalachian Communities are Winners in a Local Foods, Local Places Grant Competition.


wikimedia commons

The phrase “food-desert” might sound like a landscape of sagebrush and armadillos, but it's really a place where SlimJims, chicken nuggets and Slurpies count as dinner. A food desert can happen anywhere- we've all seen them. People who live in a food desert may be surrounded by food—fast food or convenient store hotdogs, instead of fresh, healthy food.

Lauren Stonestreet, of Elle Effect Photography

 

In 1851, salt from the Kanawha Valley was awarded the world's best salt at the World's Fair in London. Now, more than 160 years later, one of those old salt companies has been revived by brother and sister Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne. Last weekend, the JQ Dickinson Salt-Works celebrated their 1-year-anniversary. I toured the salt-works and talked with Chef April Hamilton as she prepared food for the salt soiree.

 

Roxy Todd

Tom Toliver has seen people with children who are hungry, searching for food in dumpsters in the alleys of Charleston. And he isn’t the only one. At the Union Mission where Toliver has been donating fresh vegetables, the president and CEO Rex Whiteman says hunger is on the rise throughout the state, and in Appalachia.

Roxy Todd

Agri-tourism is not a new concept to Jennifer "Tootie" Jones. A fifth generation farmer, she raises grass fed beef on Swift Level Farm in Lewisburg. She was one of the farmers who attended yesterday’s event at the Capitol Market. She sells beef to 14 West Virginia restaurants and several retail stores, some of which are featured on a new online map, called Bon Appétit Appalachia, a project by the Appalachian Regional Commission. There’s also a print map, which lists 283 food destinations across the region, including:

Jaime Rinehart, of the WVSU EDC.

The first of Tom Toliver’s gardens is in what looks like an unlikely place—there’s a lumber mill across the street, a busy road without sidewalks, and the garden itself is nudged in between a pawn shop and a DeWalt tool center. Along 6th street, a mom and her two kids walk by carrying groceries from the nearby Family Dollar. Toliver also lives down the street. He believes that putting gardens in urban areas, like Charleston’s West Side, helps reduce crime and revitalize the neighborhood.

Glynis Board / WVPublic

**Music by Sugar Short Wave.

Like many towns across much of the state, Wheeling is home to a lot of abandoned, depressed, impoverished areas susceptible to crime and drug epidemics. The region has depended largely on the coal and steel industries, which are declining. The population is decreasing along with the economy and the vitality of the communities.

A small group is tackling several major projects with the hope of changing all of that. The projects all center around infusing the town with locally grown foods, and educational opportunities to teach residents how these foods are grown. There are eight initiatives already in motion and the fledgling non-profit, Grow Ohio Valley, has raised more than $200,000 so far to support their efforts. They hope that instead of being known as a dying town, Wheeling can become a regional food production hub.

Wild Ramp Makes Move to Central City

May 20, 2014

The Wild Ramp Food Market will hold a grand opening ceremony Saturday at 9 a.m. as they celebrate a move to a new larger location.

Since opening its doors in July 2012 at Heritage Station in Huntington, the shop that only sells locally grown foods has flourished. With over 100 local farmers, artisans, and bakers producing goods for the market, they have run out of space. So when the city approached the market about moving to a larger location in Central City, Wild Ramp Officials jumped at the chance.

Shelly Keeney is the market manager.