Appalachian Agriculture is all about connections

rmtc2.AuSt.79“I am an Eastern Kentucky business owner. I am a baker of corn bread, an heirloom seed saver and a hillbilly farmer. I offer no apologies. I am Appalachia Proud.”

So begins an op-ed from Pikeville, Ky., native Joyce Pinson (left) who writes a farm-to-table column for the Appalachian News Express. The op-ed appears in the March 10 issue of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Pinson is advocating for the resurgence of Appalachia’s rich farming history, and we couldn’t agree more with her. “There is an agricultural renaissance going on east of the Winchester Wall,” she writes. “Farmers in Appalachia are one of our best kept secrets; so secret I did not even know others existed until the East Kentucky Food Systems Collaborative began piecing together a network.”

In between talking about the types of produce she grows and how eastern Kentucky green beans are the best in the biz (a hint: they really are), she says Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer’s Appalachia Proud initiative is a good thing for Appalachian farmers.

But she also talks about connection. How farming the dirt of Appalachia’s hollers connects us to our past and the ancestors who farmed to live, and how connections across county lines can only serve to make the agriculture economy in the region that much stronger, and how children who connect with growing their own food early are bound to appreciate it so much more as they grow into adults. All of this connection leads to great opportunity.

And that’s the beauty of Appalachian agriculture, farming and gardening after all, and why it is so beloved and seeing such resurgence in popularity – and it is perhaps why it can be a powerful engine carrying the region’s economy forward. It connects us.

Perhaps Pinson puts it best: “The Appalachian agriculture community is all about connections. It is not a hootenanny with ranks of shoeless rednecks; it is a group of determined resourceful farmers who make a living in the dirt of our hills and hollers. Agriculture in Appalachia sustained our forefathers. It can define our future.”