Regional partners are teaming up to improve and expand workforce development initiatives in the food sector. Funding through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) initiative allowed partners to convene in southwest Virginia March 29-31.

Attendees discussed their existing workforce development programs and the successes and learning points from their experiences. Partners began to look at action items and strategic plans that set the foundation for further collaborative work and expansion.

The hosts, Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD), took attendees to several training locations for their Groundwork workforce development program. On day one, guests toured the Appalachian Harvest Food Hub and Herb Hub in Duffield, VA. Guests visited ASD’s new greenhouse and Faith in Action Garden in Abingdon, VA and learned about the Late Bloomers program on day two. The tour wrapped up at the Four Seasons YMCA garden site in Tazewell, VA on day three.

ACEnet was represented by Adam Kody, Food Enterprise Coordinator, and Brianna McGuire, Value Chain Coordinator. Representatives from Rural Action (OH), Coalfield Development (WV), Sprouting Farms (WV), and the Appalachian Resource Conservation & Development Council (TN) were also present.

Community Update by ACEnet Value Chain Coordinator, Brianna McGuire