Economy workshop at NGTC in Blairsville, Georgia

October 6, 2010 - Growing the Appalachian Food Economy - workshop at NGTC in Blairsville, Georgia

An Appalachian Regional Commission Workshop was recently held at NGTC Blairsville Campus in Union County. The title of the workshop was “Growing the Appalachian Food Economy” and it covered everything from sustainable agriculture to local food assets.

The six hour workshop opened with remarks from John Cartwright (Appalachian Regional Commission), James Thompson (Georgia Program Manager), and Jean Haskell (Whisman Appalachian Scholar).

Next on the agenda were inspiring stories by five guest speakers. Brooks Franklin, Alice Rolls, Charlie Jackson, Anthony Flaccavento, and Allen Arnold gave interesting presentations.

Brooks Franklin is president of the Georgia Mountains Foodways Alliance, a local farmer to restaurant (and consumer) organization. Alice Rolls is Executive Director of Georgia Organics, a nonprofit organization working to integrate healthy, sustainable and locally grown food into the lives of Georgians. Charlie Jackson is Executive Director and one of the founding farmers of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. Anthony Flaccavento is founder of SCALE, a private consulting business that helps create ecologically healthy regional communities and food systems. Allen Arnold is founder of Collaborative for the 21 st Century Appalachia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving our Appalachian heritage, fostering culinary and cultural tourism, and promoting buy local sustainable agriculture.

A panel and workshop participant discussion wrapped up the event. Such questions as “How do you identify your community’s food and farm assets?” and “How do you integrate regional cultural heritage into the food economy?” were answered.

Many people from Union County attended the workshop including Joe Garner from the Georgia Mountain Education and Research Center, Mitch Griggs from the Union County Development Authority, and representatives from the local Blairsville Union County Chamber of Commerce.

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a federal state partnership that works for sustainable community and economic development in Appalachia. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the president. Local participation is provided through multi-county local development districts.

Each year ARC provides funding for several hundred projects in the Appalachian Region, in areas such as business development, education and job training, telecommunications, infrastructure, community development, housing, and transportation. These projects create thousands of new jobs, improve local water and sewer systems, increase school readiness, expand access to health care, assist local communities with strategic planning, and provide technical and managerial assistance to emerging businesses.

During the workshop, attendees were treated to a delicious lunch prepared by the North Georgia Technical College culinary students under the direction of NGTC Instructor Chef David Drake. For more information about the workshop, contact Dr. Jean Haskell, Appalachian Regional Commission or visit www.arc.gov.