The Coal Country Team supports community revitalization through economic redevelopment projects that increase awareness, understanding and access to local history and culture. Examples include interpretive trails, parks, historic preservation and projects to increase tourism or business.
In her short time with ASD, OSM/VISTA Katie Commender has raised funding to purchase 10,260lbs of fresh produce for the Healthy Families, Family Farm program. The program continuously raises money to help provide fresh produce to families in need while allowing an avenue for organic farmers to sell their "seconds" preventing them from taking an economic loss.
After receiving donated seconds, one local food pantry coordinator at the St. Charles Community Center was thrilled: "You have helped so many families with children, and elderly people in this coal mining community. I would like to say thank you."
In addition, Commender, hosted three Non-timber Forrest Products (NTFPs) trainings for over 70 people who are struggling financially and looking for opportunities to increase their monthly income. These trainings teach landowners to make their land more economically viable, showing them how to plant and harvest elderberry, ginseng, goldenseal, paw paws, shiitake mushrooms, ramps and more.
OSM/VISTA Heather Jeffreys has been working with the Grow Appalachia program. Through this program families that already utilize the local food pantry are engaged and encouraged to utilize available resources to learn how to grow their own food, thus reducing their monthly grocery bill and reliance on the local food pantry. Some families even sell excess produce at the local farmers markets, creating additional income.
The program is creating a large demonstration garden at the food pantry to serve as a place for learning and will provide produce for the food pantry. This program is important to the community because many people struggle with affording healthy food. This program is a way to reach out to families in need and the response has been overwhelming, with space for only 25 families, over 20 have signed up.