Good news for West Virginia's local food economy from the Charleston Daily Mail: the Natural Capital Investment Fund was recently awarded a sizable grant from the federal Rural Jobs Accelerator Challenge Grant. Their project, called the Value Chain Cluster Initiative, focuses on supporting all parts of the local food system in 17 West Virginia counties. This could mean big things for West Virginia's farmers and food entrepreneurs. From the article:
A separate January study by Downstream Strategies of Morgantown suggested the state could create more than 1,700 jobs if all West Virginians bought and consumed local produce during the growing season. Other jobs would likely be created in related industries the initiative targets, such as processing kitchens, slaughterhouses and distribution companies.
There has never been such great opportunity for local food producers, said Tom McConnell, leader of the West Virginia Small Farm Center at WVU Extension Servicek.
"Local food can make a better life for the farmers, but it can also increase the job opportunities for communities that stand up and get involved by adding value, performing the marketing and trucking and all of those things," he said.
"One county school system in West Virginia spent $1.5 million on food, providing the equivalent of 57 full time jobs," McConnell said. "Now, will those be here or someplace else? That's for us to decide."