Aberdeen Wins Livable Communities Program Award
ATLANTA – The Appalachian communities of Corbin, Kentucky; Anniston, Alabama; Pikeville, Tennessee; and Aberdeen, Mississippi have been selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as winners to receive technical assistance and implementation support through the $250,000 Livable Communities program. The assistance and support will help these communities improve their livability by promoting economic development, preserving rural lands, and increasing access to locally grown food. This partnership is one example of the White House Rural Council’s commitment to leveraging community solutions to solve economic challenges in rural America.
The 2013 Livable Communities program focuses on developing local food systems as a means of revitalizing traditional downtowns and promoting economic diversification. The selected communities drew on the help of their Local Development Districts or their local university or community college to submit their winning applications. A team of small town development experts will work with each community to develop achievable plans for the local production, distribution, and consumption of healthful foods.
“It’s exciting that so many Appalachian communities have a renewed interest in revitalizing their downtowns by promoting local food systems,” said EPA Agricultural Counselor to the Administrator Sarah Bittleman. “Focusing development in downtowns and existing neighborhoods is good for the natural environment and human health because it helps preserve rural lands and makes it easier for people to walk, bicycle, or drive shorter distances to their destinations.”
“ARC is pleased to partner with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in supporting this exciting program,” stated ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl. “The plans developed by the winners we are announcing today will support reinvigoration of downtowns and traditional neighborhoods in a variety of ways, including locating farmers’ markets or food hubs in ‘Main Street’ areas. They represent the kind of creative approaches developing local food systems while protecting the environment that will benefit our Appalachian communities for many years to come.”
“There is a growing momentum for the idea of integrating local food systems into rural economic revitalization efforts,” said USDA Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien. “Local foods are a critical component of creating stronger, healthier communities. These projects, along with the Livable Communities Partnership between EPA, USDA and ARC, show how innovation and cooperation are absolutely essential to successful community development.”
The winners of the competition submitted the following projects. Other winners may be announced in the future.
Corbin, Kentucky will expand its seasonal outdoor market into a year‐round local food network hub in downtown Corbin. Whitley County Farmers’ Market is a small market of about thirty vendors in a mainly rural county that includes the cities of Williamsburg and Corbin. It has achieved steady growth over the seven years of its existence. However, to expand, the Farmers’ Market must develop ways to market local foods not only to individuals and families during the summer, but also to institutions and businesses in the county such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, state parks, and restaurants year‐round. This project will help meet the technical and organizational challenges associated with this expansion.
Anniston, Alabama will develop a system of community and neighborhood gardens tied to neighborhood and downtown revitalization efforts. Anniston was once a thriving industrial and military community, but by 1990, its economy was on a downward spiral. Major iron foundries and many manufacturing facilities closed. The environmental degradation these industries left behind began to have devastating results. This project will build on the city’s efforts to create a strong economy based on a healthier environment for its residents.
Pikeville, Tennessee will build a farmers’ market on vacant land in the heart of downtown Pikeville, and establish a community kitchen where the dying art of canning and jelly-making could be promoted and the homeless and poor fed. The city and county mayors have also talked with local artists about providing a diverse selection of products and year round vendors for the facilities. The grant will allow the city and county to develop and implement an action plan to pull all of these important projects together and help create a vibrant food economy.
Aberdeen, Mississippi will establish a farmers’ market and neighborhood nutrition education center in a revitalized and refurbished former railroad building. Among the major goals of the project is the development of food systems managed by the residents, giving them the opportunity to feed their families and supplement their income. The result will be a revitalized economic landscape in the area.