Recap and Photos: SW PA Local Food Shed Inaugural Event

Thanks to everyone who came out for the SW PA Local Food Shed Inaugural Event at Republic Food Enterprise Center.

The Appalachian Regional Commission recently awarded Republic Food Enterprise Center through its parent organization, Fayette County Community Action Agency a $1.75 million grant. The grant supports local production ventures in four agriculture industry clusters – sheep/lamb/goat, poultry, produce and value added products. These projects will increase opportunities for income and job creation in communities facing coal industry fluctuations and decline. Bob Junk, Marketing Director for Republic Food Enterprise Center, stated, “We’ve been looking for ways to make the economy stronger and the farming community stronger in Western PA.”

A number of local and state officials attended the event and spoke to the crowd. PA Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding addressed the group, “The easiest day in agriculture is the day you plant something. Everything from that day on is work, so today we plant.” He talked about the importance of the years of work developing Republic Food Enterprise Center and the support from Fayette County Community Action Agency.

Republic Food Enterprise Center hosted a Farmers Market and gave tours of their state-of-the-art kitchen, cold storage and training facilities. They also provided tours of their new retail store that opened this month. Farmers Market vendors included:

The SW PA Local Food Shed program is expected to produce positive benefits & outcomes for the region including:

  • Increasing agriculture in Western Pennsylvania Building on our region’s traditional agriculture legacy & increasing diversity and profitability of local food offerings through value-added products.
  • Introducing agricultural technology and food career pipelines to adults and young people
  • Providing opportunities for more wealth to the local economy

The strengths of the SW PA Local Food Shed program:

  • Regional approach – transcends state lines to build awareness of local food systems in 38 counties in Maryland, Pennsylvania & West Virginia
  • Ties awareness of local food systems in Pittsburgh, Morgantown and Wheeling
  • Includes multiple marketing channels: national, regional and local; culinary, ethnic, biotech and local food systems

For more information about this regional opportunity for local food access, business development and job creation check out this Press Release.