Appalachian Seed Swap A Success
The 3rd Annual Appalachian Seed Swap was held earlier this spring in Pikeville, KY. A celebration of Appalachia’s unique agricultural heritage, the Seed Swap brought folks together from throughout the region to trade heirloom seeds and to learn more in general about planting, harvesting and processing those home grown fruits and veggies into family foods and salable products. A highlight was the maiden voyage of Kentucky State University’s mobile canning unit in which you can do everything from can beans to cook down sorghum molasses. Lets hope the KSU folks will get that trailer on the road as those seeds from the swap will soon have grown into produce ready for processing.
Are We SOAR-ing Yet?
The second SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) Summit was held on May 11 and once again attracted over 1000 people. Audience response appeared most enthusiastic for speakers Jay Williams, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, who spoke about efforts to revitalize their home towns, Youngstown and Buffalo respectively, both of which had depended on a single industry until it was gone. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said he was impressed with the commitment that eastern Kentuckians had demonstrated thus far but that ultimately the success of the SOAR intiative would depend on the people in the region taking ownership of it. Several participants agreed with the Governor but expressed concerns that SOAR was not including the full range of folks in the region, especially young people. Parker Hobson has this report from WMMT.
McAteer – Mines No Safer After Upper Big Branch
April 4th was the 5th anniversary of the Upper Big Branch disaster, when 29 coal miners were killed in a methane explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine at Montcoal, near Whitesville, WV. J. Davitt McAteer, who headed the Mine Safety & Health Administration during the Clinton years, led the Governor’s Independent Investigation into the disaster. On this anniversary McAteer published an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette warning that not enough has changed in American coal mines to keep another disaster like Upper Big Branch from happening again. In fact, in some places like West Virginia mine safety laws are being gutted. He spoke to WMMT by telephone. (You can read his op-ed here, or his team’s full report on the disaster here).
Growing Appalachia 2015
The buzz keeps building about growing, eating and selling local foods, and the annual Growing Appalachia conference was once again the place to be for those wanting to learn and share. WMMT’s Rance Garrison reports on this Floyd County, KY event that brought together a wide range of folks from across southeast Kentucky for a series of workshops & conversations around small-scale farming here in the mountains, energy efficiency, renewables, and more.