Paul Harper has been involved in agritourism since before it was cool. This August marks the 9th year of the bed and breakfast at Woodland Ridge Farm and Learning Center. Over those 9 years, Paul Harper has gathered numerous stories, most of them positive and some less-than-positive. The guest house is solar powered with a hot tub and a gorgeous view from the top of a ridge. The farm is also home to pigs, cows, goats, and chickens, all of whom enjoy foraging and grazing in the forests and pastures (and some eventually become the delicious farm raised local meat products that are sold and served on the farm).

When guests visit Woodland Ridge, Paul hopes they will experience and learn about the three legs of the stool that holds up … Read More


New Program at Hocking College Responds to Growing Need for Skilled Craftwork

Hocking College has recognized the need to prepare and produce individuals who have the skills and abilities to be successful in industries where demand is outpacing workforce supply, like architectural millwork and cabinet making – one of Hocking College’s newest program offerings.

With the rich forests and regional heritage of producing value-added wood products, it was surprising to learn that most of the economic activity related to wood production happens outside of Appalachian Ohio, despite the fact that most of the wood harvested in Ohio comes from Ohio’s Appalachian counties.

ACEnet has operated a shared use-wood center in the Nelsonville Business Center that is expanding to better meet and serve regional woodworkers graduating from Hocking College’s architectural millwork and cabinet making … Read More

AmeriCorps Week 2022

AmeriCorps Week 2022

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Service brings people together and bridges divides, and that’s what AmeriCorps members, volunteers, and programs do every day. In celebration of this year’s AmeriCorps Week, we’d like to tell you a little bit about our AmeriCorps VISTA, Rachel Brunot.

Since beginning her service term in June 2021, Rachel has accomplished many things. She has assisted in drafting and editing sections in 10 different grants focused on increasing healthy food access, totaling $660,415. Of these 7 grants, 4 have thus far been approved, totaling $354,790 in funds contributing to ACEnet’s work in healthy food access!

Rachel has collaborated with ACEnet’s Appalachian Accessible Food Network (AAFN) partners Rural Action & Community Food Initiatives since she began her service term at ACEnet.

Currently, she is working with AAFN Food Access Partners Coordinator Devra Roberts to re-launch … Read More

Farm to School Collaborations

Farm to School Collaborations

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One of the best ways to connect fresh, locally grown produce from farmers in Southeast Ohio with local kids and families is through the school system. Rural Action’s Farm to Institution (also called Farm to School) program uses grant funding to purchase produce from the Chesterhill Produce Auction and other local outlets. Staff and volunteers then store and process food by cleaning, freezing, or pureeing it at ACEnet’s Food Ventures Center or at ACEnet’s Food and Farm Enterprise Center in Nelsonville. Finally, the prepared produce is delivered to local school districts where cafeteria staff use it to cook and serve nutritious local meals for their students.

On February 10th, staff members from ACEnet and Rural Action had the chance to facilitate a tour and discussion with representatives from Federal Hocking Local … Read More

Morgan County Adventure Cycling: A Conduit for Regional Recreation
Gravel Riding Connects the Region to Unique Economic and Outdoor Opportunities

Charles Scott McDonald has been riding bikes, in one form or another, since he was a little kid. A long-time resident of Morgan County, the routes McDonald took were often on rural, unpaved roads. “I rode my bike everywhere. Both my parents worked, so they were out of the house. If I wanted to go do something, I just jumped on a bike,” he said.

As a teenager, he rode BMX (bicycle motocross), but said there weren’t any competitions close by which always required him to travel for races. Now a certified coach, he competes in a variety of cycling events around the state and country, including intense 24-hour races, cyclocross and gravel … Read More

Burr Oak Getaways: Sharing a Hidden Gem in Southeast Ohio
Trail Towns Continue to see Revitalization around the Outdoor Economy


Mark and Emma Brunton of Burr Oak Getaways stand outside one of their rentals as they give a tour to ACEnet’s staff, Chris Quolke, the Small Business Support Specialist and Trainer, and Bailey Grenert, the Project Coordinator & Trainer.

With the construction of the Baileys Trail System in Athens County, improvements to the Buckeye Hiking Trail in Perry County and the Moonville Rail Trail in Vinton County, Southeast Ohio is increasingly gaining national attention as a destination for trail enthusiasts. It’s also making its mark as a prime spot for local entrepreneurs, eager to grow the outdoor economy. Mark and Emma Brunton, of Burr Oak Getaways in Morgan County, are two … Read More

Appalachian Understories: Building a Web of Community
Outdoor Tourism and Heritage Merge Along our Trail Towns

The rolling hills and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains mark the landscape of southeast Ohio and offer abundant outdoor recreation opportunities including hiking, biking and climbing. Dotted with small trail towns, this heavily forested area is rich in natural resources, including coal, which brings with it a distinct and, sometimes challenging history. The convergence of outdoor recreation and distinct heritage is gaining momentum around pride of place in our region. It is drawing, and keeping, young people here.

“I really fell in love with this region through my classes like dendrology and ornithology– I was out hiking, learning the names of the trees and the birds and how our ecosystem is all related. That knowledge and sense … Read More

Milo’s WWG Announces Facility Expansion

New Production Facility Will Dramatically Increase Capacity


Nelsonville, Ohio (December 28, 2021) — ACEnet Food Ventures tenant Milo’s Whole World Gourmet, LLC, a fast-growing manufacturer of branded and private label specialty foods located in southeast Ohio, is proud to announce a major $1 million facility expansion.

The expansion will allow the company to dramatically increase its sales, while significantly upgrading equipment, all in a brand-new 2100-sq ft production facility located in ACEnet’s Food & Farm Enterprise Center.

“We have been experiencing exponential growth,” said Jonathan Milo Leal, founder and owner of Milo’s WWG, which produces the Brownwood Farms line of specialty foods. “This new facility will allow us to turbo-charge our growth, and take on larger customers that we haven’t had the capacity to handle to date.”

The new facility … Read More

If you have ever been to the Chesterhill Produce Auction or live in Glouster, Nelsonville or Coolville, you may have seen a large van emblazoned with gorgeous photos of vegetables. It’s the Veggie Van, a project of Community Food Initiatives, the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) and Rural Action.

The Veggie Van is a mobile farm stand: stocked with fresh, local produce that is transported to rural communities with extremely limited access to grocery stores or farmers markets. The produce is then offered in exchange for a voluntary donation. The donation-based model, combined with the van’s mobility, ensures that healthy food is accessible both geographically and economically.

“We are a donation based market, so we have suggested donations for our produce, but people are welcome to donate more, less, or take … Read More

ACEnet is committed to helping to shape and guide the future workforce of the region and is partnering with Hocking College to make new resources available to ACEnet clients. Hocking College students come from our community and are working to develop new skills and abilities to help enrich the region, contributing new ideas and energy. They are eager to learn about the small businesses that shape their communities, and this fall a pilot program is being offered to help connect these students with ACEnet client businesses.

Hocking College’s Business Planning students and Marketing students have been linked with ACEnet to provide business consulting services and marketing advising over the second half of Hocking College’s fall term, beginning in October. The Business Planning students will work with an entrepreneur to learn about … Read More