Happy New Year from The Earth Stewards! 2016 was a big year, and we want to share with you
what we accomplished together.
Putting Down Roots in McDowell County, West Virginia
After extensive study, we have selected a former surface coal mine site for our pilot project. In cooperation with the McDowell County Economic Development Authority, we are moving forward with plans to develop a parcel just outside Welch, West Virginia. We are scheduled to break ground in early spring.
For more information on the The Earth Stewards and our mission, please visit our website.
This year we will be starting a community garden and specialty cut flower farm on the site. These efforts represent the first phase of a larger vision for the site as a demonstration of innovative post-mine land uses. Read more →
Specialty Cut Flowers and Economic Development Historically, economic disparities between Appalachia and the rest of the nation have been wide. The steady decline of the coal industry over the past few decades and the precipitous decline in recent years have had a devastating impact on the region. While the U.S. lost 28% of coal jobs from 2011 to 2015, Appalachia lost 37% or over 20,000 jobs. Recent data from the Appalachian Regional Commission characterizes McDowell County as a distressed county and also as the most impoverished county in West Virginia.
Specialty cut flowers are among the most profitable field crops that can be grown. The Earth Stewards' plan will make flower production on mine sites in Appalachia a striking example of regenerative and productive post-mine land renewal and will create needed jobs.
Community Garden Project In West Virginia, one in five children has limited or no access to fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, or meat. The West Virginia FoodLink Food Security Profile of McDowell County indicates that the majority of the county consists of low income households that face critical challenges in meeting their basic nutritional needs - a problem made worse by the lack of quality food retailers in the area.
The community garden project will increase access to healthful, locally produced food and will offer workshops to community members and aspiring farmers.
Last year, The Earth Stewards developed many important partnerships with nonprofit and community based organizations, as well as with state and local government agencies. Information about our current partners and opportunities for prospective partnerships can be found here.
Two IREX International fellows and one AmeriCorps VISTA joined The Earth Stewards' team last fall, and we appreciate all their hard work. We are looking forward to continued growth in the New Year.
Without the collaboration from our partners and without your support, we would not have achieved what we did last year; so, we are particularly grateful to all who have contributed.