Recently the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation Board of Trustees authorized a grant payable to the Tucker Community Foundation in the amount of $75,000 to establish The Potomac Highlands Food and Farm Initiative.
"The Benedum Foundation supports efforts to increase more locally produced foods into the marketplace which results in economic growth throughout West Virginia," Mary Hunt-Lieving, senior program officer for the Benedum Foundation, said.
"This project will impact multiple levels of the community including local producers, schools, and restaurants," Rob Burns, executive director of the Tucker Community Foundation, said. "This grant allows the foundation to continue its mission of creating opportunities for people in our region to create stronger communities, healthier lives and greater economic diversity."
A year in development, the PHFFI will focus on expanding production and sales of locally produced foods and promoting culinary tourism in West Virginia by:
"The region is rich in value-added food and farm products," Diane Hinkle, development director for the Tucker Community Foundation, said. "We hope this success will attract additional funding for related programs and projects that could further impact community and economic development in our region."
Jennifer Poling, WVU Extension Service agent for Tucker County, said, "We are quickly approaching a turning point in the way West Virginia views food and its relationship to our health and daily living, so this project is coming along at the perfect time."
"West Virginia has a very strong heritage in locally-grown food, and the interest in renewing this economy is growing every day, especially in our region," Poling said. "We're really looking forward to how PHFFI will help connect people and food in many ways."
The Potomac Highlands Food and Farm Initiative is a collaborative project developed primarily by the Tucker Community Foundation, Tucker County Extension Services, Tucker County Development Authority and the Tucker County Convention Visitors Bureau.
Stakeholders providing support for the initiative include the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, Tygart Valley Growers Association, WesMonTy Resource Conservation and Development Project, Tucker County High School Greenhouse Project, Canaan Valley Institute, Rolling Thunder Farm, several local businesses, community developers and many other interested individuals.
The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation has served West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania since 1944, encouraging human development through education, economic development, health and human services, and community development in the region.