The Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) is pleased to announce that the organization has received 2018 funding from the Farm Aid grant program. Farm Aid is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on the land. A program started by musicians Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp, each year the proceeds from Farm Aid’s annual concert and their generous community of donors are granted to IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations working to strengthen family farm agriculture in the United States. Since Farm Aid’s first concert in 1985, the organization has granted more than $22 million to over 300 organizations nationwide.

This $6,500 Farm Aid grant will increase ACEnet’s Food Ventures staff’s capacity to provide livestock and specialty crop farmers in Appalachia Ohio the resources and assistance they need to reach new market opportunities.

“Assistance will include outreach, training, technical assistance, marketing and distribution assistance to beginning and established livestock and produce farmers to navigate regulatory compliances, devise market and branding strategies and diversify sales through new wholesale opportunities,” said Adam Kody, ACEnet’s kitchen manager.

Since 1996, ACEnet’s 12,500 square foot Food Ventures Center has served 100+ farmers prepare, process, warehouse and market value-added products that can be dehydrated, frozen or thermally processed to increase shelf stability, customer preferences and access to larger wholesale buyers.

Additionally, with funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and Ohio’s USDA Rural Business Development program, ACEnet is completing the construction of a meat-processing facility at its Nelsonville Food Hub that is set to open in June. In this first stage of operations, the facility plan is to be licensed through the Ohio Department of Agriculture Meat Inspection program. Under this license, the facility will allow producers to further process their primal cuts in the manner that they see fit and, in turn, become experienced meat processors and butchers.

The Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) is a community-based economic development organization serving the 32 counties of Appalachia Ohio. The mission of ACEnet is to grow the regional economy by supporting entrepreneurs and strengthening economic sectors.

ACEnet Receives Farm Aid Award

Community Update by ACEnet Programs & Communications Coordinator, Meggan Loveland