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Anonymous gift helps local farmers

By Jim Conrad, jconrad@wcyb.com
Published On: Jul 30 2013 04:17:37 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 30 2013 03:20:21 PM CDT

An anonymous donor gave a $50,000 gift to help local farmers.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. -

It's straight from a movie script -- a regional non-profit that helps small farmers gets a $50,000 gift from an anonymous donor with no idea where it came from. We found out where that money is going to be used.

It's harvest time down on the farm. For the small farmers of the region there are only a few avenues out there for them to sell their products. "We sell to the Abingdon Farmers Market, we go to a couple of their markets, Johnson County, Appalachian Harvest is actually our main market. We sell to a few restaurants," said Tamara McNaughton, an owner of a small farm.

Appalachian Harvest is a clearinghouse of sorts for local farmers help them sell their products to larger markets. "They do the outreach to huge markets, grocery stores, places like Whole Foods, Ingles and a couple of other produce companies," Tamara said.

That locally-grown food was helped along its way recently with an anonymous gift of $50,000 to the parent non-profit company Appalachian Sustainable Development.

"A couple of years ago or so, some people just called us out of the blue. They wanted to know more about us and were interested in what we were doing. That's all I know about them," ASD executive director Kathlyn Terry said.

"I imagine this person is supportive of a more localized or regional food system. That's really an amazing gift that Appalachian Harvest has been blessed with," Tamara added.

It will not only help with marketing the local food, but also in training farmers about good agricultural practices -- a certification that they need to sell to large wholesale markets.

"That much money truly makes an impact on our ability to help farmers. You just can't do it without money," Terry said.

And we can't make it without our local farmers providing the food.