High country seeds of change project narrative


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High country seeds of change project narrative

  1. 1. Startup Appalachia Accelerating the Entrepreneurial Economies in Appalachia Project NarrativeStartup Appalachia aims to (1) identify promising efforts that could produce larger results for theeconomic transition of Central Appalachia, (2) encourage direct organizing by foundations to fundaround the most promising work in the region, (3) leverage additional resources to scale projects,and (4) offer funders insight on how to capitalize on the investments they have made to date.Section I: Project IdentificationProject Title:High Country Seeds of ChangeIdentify the name, contact number and email address of the following Startup Actors:  Supportive Coach: Ray Daffner- rdaffner@arc.gov - 202/884-7777  Nominator: Jeffrey Scott – jeffrey.scott@heifer.org – 828-263-2546  Project Leader: Jeffrey ScottSection II: To be completed by the Nominator1. Please provide a short summary of your motivations for funding this project and what you hope togain out of participating in Startup Appalachia.Through Heifer USA’s Seeds of Change Initiative, the Heifer International is tackling hunger andpoverty at a systemic and more sustainable scale. Heifer is re-launching its domestic program incommunities of persistent poverty within two of America’s poorest regions—Arkansas and CentralAppalachia. The goal is healthy regional food systems; profitable small scale farmers and foodentrepreneurs; and healthy, food secure communities. Working with regional and communitypartners, Heifer will strengthen limited resources food and farm enterprises and connect them to agrowing consumer base through diverse markets. Establishing the necessary value chains will enablecommunities to better feed themselves, and will enable small scale sustainable agricultural farmersand food entrepreneurs to be economically viable.To make this work possible, Heifer is working to organize key stakeholders in communities--layingthe groundwork for diverse actors to work together and invest together in persistent povertycommunities. These partners will work together across multiple food system value chains to create anenabling environment for improved livelihood and food security, environmental stewardship andimproved social equity. With the proper investments and support, Seeds of Change is striving tocreate production systems and diverse markets to support a greater number of food and farmenterprises and to enable these producers to feed a greater number of people-especially the alarmingand growing numbers of community members who are food insecure.Organizing and strengtheningsocial capital along with the accompanying increases in income and opportunity and will help createdurable, sustainable communities in Arkansas and Appalachia where opportunities have long beenscarce.Heifer International wants to partner not only with community and regional leaders to find solutionsto these challenging issues but to work closely and strategically with other funders whose mission isaligned with ours and are interested in making long term investments to create sustainable impactand economic transition for those most in need.
  2. 2. Startup Appalachia Accelerating the Entrepreneurial Economies in Appalachia Project NarrativeSection III: To be completed by the Project Leader1. Clarify the short-term and long-term results of the project.The long-term vision of Seeds of Change Appalachia (SOCA) is to end poverty, grow jobs, andimprove health while caring for the environment in Appalachia through the incredible power oflocally grown food. This vision will be accomplished by strengthening the local economy andcreating jobs and opportunities in all aspects of agriculture and food production. In turn, thiswill boost nutrition by improving access to healthy, locally produced foods, especially for lowincome families, and improve the environment by supporting responsible agriculturalpractices. The Heifer USA domains of change are the cornerstones that SOCA is using to establishthe 4 year goals for this region.The guiding Heifer goals and measures include:1. Food Security Goal: Low income and food insecure individuals have access to nutritioushealthy food. In order for individuals to thrive, they must have access to and be consuming healthynutritious food. Awareness and understanding of the connection between food and health is criticalto addressing issues of hunger and diet related disease. Impact indicators include: number of families(a) receiving or having access to healthy food, (b) having or participating in gardens, (c) participatingin food processing, e.g., canning/freezing etc.2. Livelihood Security Goal: Low income and food insecure individuals have diversifiedlivelihood security strategies. Resilience and diversified income strategies are critical to liftingcommunities and individuals out of poverty. The skills and ability to access living wage jobs andbusiness ownership opportunities build healthy local economies and distribute wealth withincommunities and among low income and food insecure populations. Impact indicators include:percentage increase of impact households with wage income from formal sector work (i.e., livingwage job).3. Natural Resources: Natural resources are equitably accessible and responsibly used for ahealthy living environment. The environment and its natural capital such as land, water, air andbiodiversity are essential to the health of communities. Equitable access and ownership to andresponsible stewardship of natural resources lead to healthier communities and greater economicdevelopment. Impact indicator: percentage increase of acres being transitioned from conventional tosustainable or organic forms of production and/or percentage increase of acres brought back intoagriculture production.4. Social Equity Goal: Low income and food insecure individuals share in equitabledistribution of power and resources. Social equity is the objective of all the strategiesimplemented in the communities where Heifer works. Social equity ensures fair access, ownership,and leadership that allow individuals to participate fully within their communities and within thelarger society. Impact indicators include: percentage increase in business ownership by racial andethnic minorities, women and other disadvantaged populations.The short term goals (Five Years) related to the Seeds of Change Initiative in the High CountryRegion are two-fold:High Country Region Goal 1: Develop a regional system for self-reliance that increasesaccess to healthy, locally grown food and diversifies opportunities for household income forGenuine Need Population (GNP).
  3. 3. Startup Appalachia Accelerating the Entrepreneurial Economies in Appalachia Project NarrativeThe primary strategy to meet this goal currently being implemented through the Seeds of ChangeAppalachia is: Develop a system of education, networking and training to build the knowledge, connections and skills necessary to (1) increase the amount of sustainably produced food by our Genuine Need Population and for others that are the low income food insecure but not able to farm; and (2) create targeted and attainable opportunities for the diversification and/or household income of our Genuine Need Population. Objective 1. By 2016, 6,200 low income food insecure households (families) in the SOCA region will have access to fresh local food for consumption. Activities for year one: o Community gardens are established and monitored by coalition partners o Families receive plants, tools and training in gardening o Local farmers, farmers markets, farm stands provide surplus or gleaned produce to food pantries or processing sites o Women and families receive training on preserving seasonally abundant produce for year around use Objective 2. By 2016, 4,000 low income food insecure families have diversified or increased household income. Activities for year one: o Expand growing season with and provide training on the use of high tunnels and sustainable gardening/agriculture methods o Provide on the job training in P.A.D and shared use facilities and commercial kitchens o Develop a business and entrepreneur development support network o Provide training business trainingHigh Country Region Project Goal 2: Develop and maintain a financially viable regional foodsystem that creates living wage jobs, establishes local ownership, and increases diversemarkets for locally sustainably grown food.The strategies currently being implemented through the High Country Seeds of Change initiative tomeet Goal 2 are: Increase Sustainable Ag Production, Develop Critical ―Missing‖ Infrastructure, and a Diversity of Markets. Limited resource farmers need long term (1) sustainable agriculture technical assistance and entrepreneurship skills; (2) access to a diversity of community capital and markets; 3) and access to viable and regionally based and processing, aggregation and distribution enterprises. The coalition will work to develop a coordinated system of technical assistance and access to agriculture equipment investment to increase production and profits of sustainably grown products for the limited resource farmer. Developing critical business development and planning capacity. The core team and steering committee will set up a food systems task force to review existing infrastructure assessments for the region. Objective 1: By 2016, 750 limited resource farmers and food entrepreneurs are operating viable food and farm enterprises and are generating a diversity of income at the household level. Activities for year one: o Develop cross sector program partners and design and implement programs
  4. 4. Startup Appalachia Accelerating the Entrepreneurial Economies in Appalachia Project Narrative o Expand growing season with and provide training on the use of high tunnels and sustainable gardening/agriculture methods o Provide on the job training in P.A.D and shared use facilities and commercial kitchens o Develop a business and entrepreneur development support network o Provide training business training Objective 2: By 2016, at least 5 financially viable community-owned food system enterprises that represent targeted food system infrastructure (P.A.D) are developed and launched in the High Country Region. Activities for year one: o Organize existing community capital resources for social enterprise based infrastructure for regional food systems o Develop a regional training and support program for professional business development and workforce training including workshops, classes and mentor networks related to social enterprise based infrastructure in the food system o Organize existing business development support resources in the region for enterprise based infrastructure business planning and development o Develop a system of sustainable agriculture specialty crop workshops to train limited resources farmers on targeted production for enterprise based infrastructure connected to specific markets. 2. Please provide a detailed description of howthis project couldbe expanded. This is the first year of development in the High Country Region and as with most projects of this size there are many areas for targeted development and expansion. For this first year of implementation Heifer is investing approximately $500K in three primary areas Food Access, Value Chain Development and Collective Impact (organizational development of community coalition). More specifically the High Country Region has chosen five thematic areas for investment to begin building a solid footing for regional development and expansion of the food system. These include: • Season extension • Aggregation, distribution, processing and rural/urban connections • Institutional buying • Enterprise development support (entrepreneurship technical assistance and access to capital) • Network growth and strengthening Investment of resources in these thematic areas will greatly increase the development and expansion of the project. Heifer USA will expand the Seeds of Change Initiative into other sub-regions of Central Appalachia. To make this expansion, Heifer USA will first and foremost, need this initial round of investment in High Country Region to start showing positive trends of impact for Food and Livelihood Security as well as our meeting its Natural Resource and Social Equity goals (described above). Secondly Heifer USA will need committed funding partners for its own programmatic costs, to leverage its investments in the region, and to co-develop strategies with them and the communities on the ground. 3. What resources are needed to assist in this expansion?1) Technical assistance for sustainable agriculture production, value chain development,entrepreneurship development and organizational development. 2) Agricultural and commercial
  5. 5. Startup Appalachia Accelerating the Entrepreneurial Economies in Appalachia Project Narrativekitchen equipment including greenhouses, high tunnels, drip irrigation, fencing, tractors, tools, trucks,flash freezers, dehydrators, cold storage, etc. 3) Seeds, seedlings, livestock (cows, goats, pigs, poultry,sheep) bees, fish and others 4) professional programmatic/operations staffing for Heifer USA and thepartner intermediary organizations working in the regional coalition network to deliverimplementation strategies. 4. Please list the specific activities that will lead to this expansion. (Provide a timeline for these activities.) 1) Season Extension Committee partners and activity leads: Cooperative Extension; Appalachian State University’s Sustainable Agriculture Program; High Country Grown; Circles’ Sustainable Ag Program; Giving Table; Outgrow Hunger; Maverick Farm’s Farmer Incubator and Grower Program (FIG); USDA/NRCS, Rural SCALE Fall (2012) • Requests for High Tunnels/Hoop Houses from USDA’s NRCS • Curriculum developed for High Tunnel/Hoop House & season extension training • Market Study for Direct Markets and Shared Value Wholesale Markets • Convening of limited resource farmers wanting season extension Winter (2012-2013) • Identification & Selection of core products to be grown • Market Development and Market Relationships built • Workshop for limited resource farmers participating in growing season • Master List ordered for seeds, equipment and tools necessary for production Spring (2013) • Workshops for limited resource farmers participating in growing season • Ongoing Training and Support • Ongoing Market Development and Relationship building • Work plan Preparation for FY2014 2) Aggregation, Distribution, Processing and Rural/Urban Connections Committee partners and activity leads: Appalachian Regional Commission; Alleghany Food Hub; Giving Table; Cooperative Extension; Creative Food Ventures; PHARMIN; Johnson County High School’s Vocational Agriculture Program; alt.Consulting; ACEnet Fall (2012) • Market Development and market relationships built in both local and export markets • Assessment of P.A.D. assets, capacity and market linkages and prioritize early opportunities • Develop specific scope of work and TA necessary for each P.A.D. including feasibility and business planning Winter (2012-2013)
  6. 6. Startup Appalachia Accelerating the Entrepreneurial Economies in Appalachia Project Narrative • Convene participating small scale farmers and food entrepreneurs to better understand production capacity • Convene intermediary value chain partners for specific P.A.D. and address Roles and Gaps • Identify funding partners and build relationshipsSpring (2013) • Based on feasibility/business plans; develop joint work plans for both direct partners and indirect partners for P.A.D capitalization, development and launch • Continue to build markets and market relationships • Continue to build network of participating farmers and food entrepreneurs3) Institutional BuyersCommittee partners and activity leads: Appalachian State University’s Department of Food Services;Creative Food Ventures; Giving Table; Johnson County High School’s Vocational Ag Program;Alleghany Food Hub; Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project; ACEnet, Appalachian RegionalHealthcareFall (2012) • Develop preliminary work plan with one institutional buyer • Identify 3-5 crops that the institution will purchase and that can produced, processed and distributed in regionWinter (2012-2013) • Convene participating small scale farmers in a series of facilitated meetings to discuss pricing, contracts, quantity, quality, aggregation and distribution • Negotiate terms with institutional buyer and small scale producers • Develop production plan with participating small scale farmersSpring (2013) • Provide sustainable agriculture production technical assistance • Convene P.A.D partners to develop value chain linkage plan to institutional buyer • Prepare work plan for FY144) Enterprise Development Support (Entrepreneurship TA & Access to Capital)Committee partners and activity leads: High Country Entrepreneurship Support Network (12 localand regional agencies and organizations providing business development support); Appalachian StateUniversity Sustainable MBA Program; alt.Consulting; ACEnetFall (2012) • Convene High Country Entrepreneurship Support Network to continue work plan development for streamlining and improving services • Develop business support services for Creative Food Ventures as pilot • Build technology platform (website & blog) for bridging entrepreneurs and support services
  7. 7. Startup Appalachia Accelerating the Entrepreneurial Economies in Appalachia Project NarrativeWinter (2012-2013) • Develop work plan for accessing capital for participating food and farm enterprises • Convene six community food entrepreneurs and develop plan for piloting support services • Convene six small scale farm entrepreneurs and develop plan pilot support services • Alpha test technology platform for farm and food entrepreneursSpring (2013) • Prepare launch of Community Farm & Food Entrepreneurship Support Network • Continue supporting 12 community food and farm entrepreneurs utilizing technology platform as beta test • Develop work plan for FY20145) Network Growth and Strengthening – coalition building Committee partners and activity leads:Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, Appalachian District Health Department, Resourceful Communities, Heifer USA, Considine & Associates, Appalachian State University and intermediate governance team of coalitionFall & Winter (2012/2013) Continue development of common vision and agenda of coalition Establish common measurements and baseline for coalition strategies Continue developing the capacity of backbone organization Continue to develop governance structure Complete feasibility phase of fundraising campaignWinter (2013) Planning for Regional Food Summit in Spring 2013 Continuation of coalition development through recruitment, technical workshops and facilitation Governance of coalition selected and trained Silent phase of fundraising and planning for campaign launch Public relations and outreach plan developed and startedSpring (2013) Regional Food Summit Public fundraising campaign launched Proposal writing for Heifer USA implementation YR 2 PR and outreach expanded
  8. 8. Startup Appalachia Accelerating the Entrepreneurial Economies in Appalachia Project NarrativeAlso listed are eight (8) specific activities chosen by the coalition and the representative leadintermediaries helping to coordinate activities this first implementation round and include:1) Circles of Watauga, Susan Jones, Nancy Reigal, (http://www.circlescampaign.org/, Wilkes Circles of Care http://prographicsinc.com/index.html) and the Hospitality House, Tina Krause, Todd Carter, http://hospitalityhouseofboone.org/ Hospitality House and Circles of Watauga are working together to address poverty and food insecurity and the systemic barriers associated with their elimination in the community. This coalition of faith-based and secular organizations seeks to develop and implement a model, innovative intervention, integrating the national Circles program with a sustainable agriculture initiative to support personal and family growth, encourage healthy living through producing and preparing fresh foods, promote healthy lifestyles and food security through community gardening, develop awareness of agriculture and its many facets as a means to economic stability, provide job and business development skills to those interested in pursuing agriculture positions or creating their own agriculture enterprises as part of the local and/or regional food system. In tandem, this initiative will build the capacity for year- round community gardening and expand direct markets for produce and products developed through the initiative.2) Giving Table, LLC, Alan Rice, Dwight Smith, http://www.thegivingtableusa.org/ (Sub-contract to RFD CDC, Alan Rice, http://www.rfdcdc.org) The Giving Table, LLC, seeks to promote sustainable economic development and agriculture production in northwestern North Carolina and to provide a source of protein for those in need of food assistance through a program of purchasing locally grown select beef stock; raising cattle to slaughter weight using an innovative, hydroponic fodder system on a local free-range feed farm(s); processing through a local abattoir and cold storage aggregation and distribution facility; distributing high-value, grass-fed beef products to local, regional, and extra-regional markets; and using a percentage of the proceeds to provide beef products to area food banks.3) High Country Grown: A Marketing Strategy of High Country Local First, Jim Hamilton, http://highcountrygrown.org/, http://www.highcountrylocalfirst.org/ High Country Local First, (HCLF) along with its partner organizations will work with Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) to create a co-marketing strategy for High Country Grown and Appalachian Grown so that the varied work of both groups will be clearer to the consumer. HCLF will expand the High Country Grown brand and offer a curriculum of training to limited resource farmers and locally owned restaurants to help develop and strengthen direct markets in Watauga and Ashe Counties as a pilot program for the initial phase in a coordinated approach with ASAP. Building this identity for locally grown products is also important for consumer awareness that ―local‖ means high quality, good taste, fresh and grown in the High Country. Specialized workshops and training will be offered to farmers along with financial assistance for livestock, seed and/or infrastructure to help genuine need farmers to meet the needs of the direct markets.
  9. 9. Startup Appalachia Accelerating the Entrepreneurial Economies in Appalachia Project Narrative4) ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project), Charlie Jackson, http://www.asapconnections.org/ ASAP, in working with HCLF, will build capacity and increase market opportunities for limited resource farmers and develop a regional identity for food grown in the High Country. In addition to the co-marketing and direct market building strategies described above, ASAP will build farmer capacity to increase income through direct markets, facilitate the connections between farmers and buyers, and increase the competitiveness and visibility of locally grown food. Within a longer time frame, forming sustainable business relationships that clearly and accurately distinguish locally grown food in the marketplace will be crucial to the continued development of the local food system in the High Country. In four years, more farmers in the High Country will be able to meet the requirements of distinct market segments (i.e., restaurants, institutional cafeterias, grocery stores). More food buyers will be able identify and source locally grown food from qualified farmers. Locally grown food will be available across more local food outlets in the region. Certification and branding will maintain the integrity and meaning of locally grown food, and High Country farms will benefit from even greater demand for locally grown food.5) Shared Use/Incubation Community Kitchen, Carol Coulter, http://mountaintimes.com/columns-serves-you-right/articles/Lets-Get-Creative-id-022567 The Creative Food Ventures shared use facility will attract and grow food entrepreneurs for the kitchen rental program and develop and implement a robust business development support program over the first nine months of implementation. This will include the re- launch of a marketing campaign to attract new food entrepreneurs in the region. A part- time kitchen manager will bring needed coordination and leadership to the programs and will also help direct a newly committed project task force that may become a new board of directors for Creative Food Ventures. Relationships with Appalachian State University Food Services with the help of students will also be developed. In four years, the facility will be fully integrated into the regional food system and will be able to provide food systems training, serve as an incubator for new ventures, and will have the potential for serving as an aggregation and distribution site.6) Alleghany Co. Food Hub Workgroup, Colette Nester The four year goal of this workgroup is to develop a viable sub-regional local food hub model that connects and strengthens small scale production, aggregation, processing and distribution to a diversity of markets in and out of the region. In the first year, workshops and educational programs on production and purchasing systems on and for the variety of buyers will initiate linkages between producers and points of sale. Assessing buyers’ needs and connecting and leveraging the opportunities in the existing distribution systems and P.A.D. facilities will strengthen the opportunities to set up market systems. The proposed farmer/worker owned Appalachian Meat Processing Facility in Alleghany will conduct market feasibility and business planning to set the stage for capitalization and development in Year 2. Lessons learned and already established needs for this sub–regional hub will be an important contribution to the rest of the SOCA initiative and developing a regional approach to value added processing chains.
  10. 10. Startup Appalachia Accelerating the Entrepreneurial Economies in Appalachia Project Narrative7) Outgrow Hunger, Travis Birdsell Out Grow Hunger is a program designed to join communities together through growing and giving. The program is uniting commercial producers, home gardeners, churches, community organizations, and local governments, to create a community wide effort to eliminate food insecurity, address child nutrition and empower the poor. They distribute fresh local produce through a developing network food pantries, use it in cooking for our community meals and mobile meals, and process it into soups or stews frozen in family sized portions and ready give away and eat through a developing network of community kitchens The program also providestechnical assistance for home food production by growing a garden at residences, while providing classes for gardening skills, cooking, and preserving. The goal is that those who hunger, especially each child, has food to eat and knows that the same holds true for tomorrow. Focus continues on 1) expansion of networked commercial, church and household growers, 2) processing, storage and efficient distribution of locally grown food 3) development of networked commercial kitchens and food pantries.8) Farmer Incubator and Grower Program (FIG) Maverick Farms, Hillary Wilson The purposeof the FIG program is to strengthen the rural economy of the High Country. The goal is to promote local food production, processing, and consumption as an engine for economic development in the High Country. The FIG program trains, supports and grows new farm based enterprises on a shared use farm utilizing a graduated tier system model for each participant. Up to 30 farmers will be utilizing the program in the next five years.Maverick Farms has also established a Shared Cost CSA as part of its multi-farm CSA to help gain access for young pregnant moms in need of healthy nutritious food.Section IV: To be completed by the Nominator and Project Leader1. How does this project contribute to the economic transition of Central Appalachia?This project contributes to the economic transition of Central Appalachia by investing significantlyand longer and deeper impact of the region and by testing regional-scale community developmentimpact models in the local food sector to help create a more sustainable economy and healthier,more resilient communities. This model dovetails with much of the collaborative work taking placealready in Central Appalachia and described in these measures by Anthony Flaccavento: Uses ―asset-based‖ strategies, building and adding value to the ecological, cultural and human strengths of the region; Improves community food security through market-based initiatives to solve food deserts, as well as helping food insecure families produce the food they need for their own consumption needs through backyard, school and community garden. Cultivates self-reliance, for producers and the broader community; Builds cooperative networks that help overcome isolation, estrangement and problems of scale; and Restores and builds community wealth in multiple forms.2. Provide a 1-paragraph summary of your project to share on the Appalachia Funders Networkwebsite.
  11. 11. Startup Appalachia Accelerating the Entrepreneurial Economies in Appalachia Project NarrativeHeifer International has relaunched its work domestically in the US to tackle systemic poverty andhunger and has committed $1.3M over four years through Heifer USA’s Seeds of Change Initiativeto help strengthen the regional food system of the High Country Region in western NC and easternTN. Through increased healthy food access, community collaboration and value chain developmentthis newinitiative willgrow jobs, improve health, and create community self-reliance to help endhunger and poverty through the extraordinary potential of locally produced food. Successive roundsof investment will take place in other sub-regions of Central Appalachia to catalyze, strengthen andgain a critical foothold in the transition of the region as a whole.Section V: Conditions for ParticipationDue to the educational nature of this initiative, your participation in Startup Appalachia confirmsyour willingness topublically share and encourage the use of the ideas and strategies behind yourorganization’s project.