It might still be pretty cold across much of Central Appalachia, but planting season has started for many area farmers. In the warmer months ahead, we can look forward to fresh, local produce at the Farmer’s Market, in many of our schools and restaurants, and even at some Appalachian colleges. It makes sense for all the same reasons as farm-to-school does – with the added bonus that college students are (hopefully) less picky about fruits and vegetables than grade-schoolers, and college cafeterias often have a more flexible budget to work with. The Roanoke Times recently profiled a Floyd County, VA farm that has begun selling to Ferrum College.
On March 15, the college announced that Riverstone “will grow crops specifically for Ferrum College, including head lettuces, salad greens and baby spinach, tomatoes, cabbages, peppers, potatoes and carrots.” College President Jennifer Braaten said the partnership with the farm is a good fit for Ferrum, which she said is committed to environmental responsibility and supporting local businesses….
For Crenshaw, Riverstone’s business agreement with Ferrum College provides additional evidence that a regional organic farm can thrive. “By supporting local organic farm food, the college helps develop new markets and hence encourages young people who want to make a living on the land,” Crenshaw said in a news release when the partnership was announced.“The new agriculture — small scale, intensive, high quality, environmentally sensitive — provides economic development opportunities for rural Appalachian communities that struggle to remain economically viable,” he said.