Lexy Close was hired in February to oversee the 20 month Local Food Promotion Program grant from the USDA. This grant is being carried out through a collaboration between the Appalachian RC&D Council, Appalachian Sustainable Development and Jonesborough Locally Grown. Collectively, these three organizations represent farmers markets, the year round Boone Street Market, Rooted in Appalachia (a restaurant distributor) and Appalachian Harvest (a wholesale distribution hub). The LFPP has a two goals, first to increase the supply of local products to market and second to increase consumer demand for these products being sold through the collaborative’s distribution system.
The collaborative has worked over the winter to survey producers and will work this summer to survey members of the public who regularly shop for local food. Close and her partners will use the data gathered to create better workshops and trainings for farmers, streamline distribution systems, and do outreach to consumers through existing and new community events.
On the consumer outreach side, Close will be present at the upcoming Blue Plum festival (June 5-6) with information on where to buy local food products and maybe even have some delicious products for sale on site! She is also helping to organize a tour of four Johnson City restaurants that will feature dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. For area producers, Close is helping to organize workshops in May on high tunnels and season extension and will be organizing more for the down season in the fall and winter.