from Emily Bidgood, Executive Director

Highlights and many Thank Yous to follow….


What an exciting year for us who have the privilege of working and volunteering through the Appalachian RC&D Council! This year has shown me that by working together with partnerships, particularly across age lines and economic-status lines, and ethnicity lines, wonderful and inspiring things are accomplished. Our community is made a better place. As global and national news swirls around, it is grounding to be able to make a difference together where we live, play, and love.

If you’ve already looked at our annual report newsletter via email (or it will arrive in your mailbox via usps soon), you will have seen some of the highlights. Some of the most impactful things have been:

  1. educating 40 individuals through our Field School beginning farmer training program and seeing their green thumbs flourish….
  2. evaluating how 135 families in Washington County have benefited from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables through the Appalachian Farmacy coalition….
  3. celebrating a milestone of 20 quilt trail blocks and stories in downtown Greeneville because of over volunteer artists giving 1,500++ hours
  4. listening on YouTube to the Quilt Stories project channel, thanks to ETSU anthro and Megan Gauck and Rachel Wheeler and the TN Arts Commission
  5. facilitated the new Tennessee Farm Link project at thanks to the TN Dept of Ag….
  6. Food Forest Fridays and kids nature and nutrition education made a real difference in many children’s lives thanks to the East TN Foundation….
  7. Three federal USDA grants awarded to invest in long term LOCAL food and COMMUNITY health — wow!!
  8. …and we really did have a great evening building community through food and farming at our Appalachian Fusion dinner on November 3rd….

The best part is—these are only the highlights.

The biggest compliment I received after our November 3rd fundraiser dinner in downtown Johnson City (Appalachian Fusion) was from my friend Rucht.  Rucht came with his wife McKenna, of a downtown law firm, not knowing much of anything about the event or menu or cause. While waiting in line he curiously observed what was unfolding underneath the farmers market pavilion, trying to figure out if he could tell what was going on before hearing directly from the MC or organizers…

  • There was Eva Becerra and Raul Rendron serving pozole out of a big cauldron.
  • High School age attendants in bright tie-dye uniforms were serving tamales, salsa, and flan.
  • Other high schoolers, and elementary age children too, were in a separate area selling fall-theme crafts and more tie-dye apparel.
  • Next to their merchandise was an old fashioned wooden press where kids and adults were grinding and giving out fresh-pressed apple juice.
  • Adult volunteers worked side-by-side with the kids at all the stations under the pavilion.
  • Two long rows of colorfully decorated tables offered family-style seating to eat and listen to Amythyst Kiah play and sing.
  •  After several minutes there was a pause at the mic for a young woman farmer to share how her farm business and planning was improved by being a part of the cause.

Rucht later told me, “Suddenly it all clicked and I was very impressed. This was an event where you were telling a story and it all fit together. The story is that food and farming build community, and community is especially important for at-risk kids.

Rucht saw what we’re working towards. You see it too, because if you are per chance reading this blog you ARE a part of building this food and farm community and that’s one reason that you keep on with us. Thank you for how you shared your time- in 2017–in the form of attendance or volunteering or teaching at our events. Join us again next year. While we are so proud to have been awarded, or co-awarded, two large scale federal grants this year to further strengthen food and farm community, it’s still your financial gifts that keep the organization going and growing. More than a compliment, your “time, talents, and treasure” are sustaining

End-Of-Year Giving


If money grew on trees we would be set, financially. Or if federal funding was 100% certain and flexible all the time, we’d also be set. All of our full-time staff are 100% grant funded to work on specific projects. Currently, the federal grants that support our programs would be eliminated if the President’s draft budget proposal is passed. Our programs that are so important are at high risk of fading away once a grant is finished without individual donors to continue them.  Additionally, our grants only cover salaries and programs expenses. Our grant funding will not allow us to pay for unexpected operating needs like replacing a broken computer.

Please consider us in your end-of-year giving. Money raised will help us provide a safety net of funding for our organization and help keep our programs running. Here are the ways you can make a donation:

And we want to acknowledge….

Serving at Appalachian Fusion with Eva Becerra’s home pozole recipe

We are so grateful and thankful for all of your Local care and support, especially to the following businesses and partner non profits:


Appalachian Sustainable Development

Boone Street Market

Brushy Fork Environmental Consulting

Conservation Legacy VISTA Team

General Morgan Inn hosts the Wayne Horton family quilt square; thanks to the volunteer Quilt Trail committee in Greeneville

Drop Collaborative

Extension Service of UT & TSU

Farm Bureau Jonesborough

First Bank & Trust Ag Lending

First Frontier Quilters, Kingsport

Food City

General Morgan Inn

Green Earth Connection / Dana York

Greene County Fund

The Field School saw record numbers on enrollment for the 17-18 year.

Greeneville Partnership-Tourism

Greeneville-Greene County History Museum

Harbin Hill Farms

Jennings Accounting Group

Johnson City & Jonesborough Senior Centers

Johnny and Pat Lynch / Farmhouse Gallery & Gardens

Main Street Pizza Company

Mountain Empire Literacy Outreach

Myers Farm & Pumpkin Patch

Corn stalk and sweet tater harvest, just one day of weekly K-12 kids nature and nutrition programming.

Niswonger Childrens Hospital

NRCS – TN and all counties

Pleasant Valley Farm (the Saylors)

River Creek Farm

River House Farm

Rural Resources

Seeyle Coombs Catering

Serenity Knoll Farm

Still Hollow Farm

It was 10 degrees outside, but teaching season extension has been a priority across our youth and adult education

Sunset View Farm

Tennessee Quilts

Topper Academy

TriCon Builders

Washington County Ag Partnership

Yee Haw Brewing Company


ETSU has been integral to our programs this year in many ways and we are so thankful for this institution’s strong work in our community! Dr. Lindsey King and her undergraduate Anthropology students volunteered over 250 hours documenting stories from local quilts to launch a new YouTube Quilt Stories channel. Kelly Porter’s graphic design class in Art & Design painted a quilt square for a Carter County farm. Dr. Deborah Slawson and graduate students Beenish and Munene from the College of Public Health are evaluators on the Appalachian Farmacy program, responsible for gracefully and professionally evaluating how 135 families in Washington County have benefited from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables this year. College of Nursing through their Community Clinic and numerous nurses, faculty and staff, embraced the Farmacy program and been central for recruitment and participation. Michelle Johnson has overseen several undergraduate and graduate Nutrition interns with the Food Forest component of the Sowing Seeds youth program. Also with Sowing Seeds, Elaine Evans of the Medical Library is a teacher and an adviser along with Randy Wykoff of Public Health. Dr. Kelly Foster and the Applied Social Research Lab in Sociology just came on the team as evaluators for the three-year Beginning Farmer grant held by Appalachian Sustainable Development. Thank you again ETSU for facilitating a connection between our community, local farmers and food! Your contributions certainly help make our efforts more impactful.

From all our Staff and Support…Thank you!

  • Emily Bidgood, Executive Director
  • Lexy Close, Beginning Farmer Support
  • Rachel Wheeler, AmeriCorps VISTA ‘16-17 and hired on as Farmers Market Promotion Coordinator for 2018
  • Amy Davis, AmeriCorps VISTA ‘17-’18
  • Megan Gauck, Summer Quilt Stories intern
  • Our extended wonderful team of dedicated contractors:
  • Wenny Elrod, Sowing Seeds Leader
  • Shae Keane, Sowing Seeds Leader
  • Sheri Cooper, Build It Up Leader
  • Taylor Malone, Build It Up Leader
  • Earn2Learn Interns (funded by Washington County Community Foundation) from Washington County High Schools:
  • Aaron Kindziera, Abi Cowden, Axel Lara, Caleb Lane, Dakota Miller, Dezmon Carpenter, Dylan Miller, Fabian Salts, Hannah Bennet, Jade Baker-Harris, Kobalt Cooper-King, Madison Carter-Wallace, MJ Rost, Michael Brock, Nakyla Brady, Natalie Hyatt, TJ Sanders, Toby Cornett, Tristan Lane, Tristan Slough

Thank You! From the Food Forest kids who gather weekly to learn outside.