Spring City And Ringgold Receive Local Foods Local Places Community REvitalization Technical Grant

  • Tuesday, June 4, 2024

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, on Tuesday announced the selection of six communities that will receive technical assistance through the Local Foods, Local Places program. This shared effort will develop local food systems to advance environmental protection, strengthen local economies and further sustainability goals. Among the communities receiving the assistance are Spring City and Ringgold.

“Access to fresh, quality food is essential to good health, and supporting locally grown food options can help to reduce pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions,” said Vicki Arroyo, EPA associate administrator for policy. “Our Local Foods, Local Places program provides technical assistance with proven strategies to help communities address their nutritional needs and economic development and environmental goals.” 

Through this assistance, each community will pursue their local project planning goals: 

The town of Spring City plans to improve access to local foods, with new community gardens and a farmers’ market to address priority health challenges such as obesity. 

The Rabbit Valley Farmers Market, Inc. in Ringgold intends to improve community awareness about the market and related food programs on childhood health, nutrition education, improved food access and more.  

Braxton County, W.V. is working with the town of Sutton to expand plans for its farmers market and transform a two-acre Main Street space. 

The city of Pittsburgh, Pa. plans to engage residents and stakeholders to reimagine the Carrick Neighborhood Farmers Market. 

Turner Station in Baltimore County, Md. intends to create more opportunities for healthy food access through a Turner Station food access and aggregation plan. 

The city of Wellston, Ohio has proposed a centrally located downtown open-air market reutilizing a vacant city-owned lot. 

More detailed descriptions of each community’s goals are included below. 

In all six communities, EPA’s Office of Community Revitalization will convene federal, state, regional and local partners for two-day in-person workshops. This assistance will improve public health by increasing access to healthy foods for families and create jobs while protecting the environment. EPA’s Local Foods, Local Places program also helps to integrate food-system assets into communities, boosting local revitalization efforts and encouraging more active lifestyles, thereby improving overall quality of life, especially within marginalized communities. The program emphasizes sustainable food systems and expands economic opportunity, especially for local growers and value-added food processor entrepreneurs. 

A pool of applicants from Appalachia was identified building upon a long-standing and productive relationship between EPA and ARC. 

“Increasing the availability of locally grown foods not only provides healthy options for the residents of our Appalachian communities, but also spurs economic diversification across the region,” said Gayle Manchin, ARC Federal co-chair. “I’m heartened to know that ARC’s partnership with EPA will continue to support Appalachia’s longstanding agriculture industry and create new job opportunities.” 

Three communities that will receive Local Foods, Local Places technical assistance (Ringgold, Wellston and Turner Station in Baltimore County) are also participating in a new pilot program through EPA’s Superfund Redevelopment Program. The Superfund Redevelopment Program provides technical assistance to support holistic planning, reuse and redevelopment at or near Superfund sites. The program works with communities on project planning and design to utilize spaces outside Superfund site boundaries to address legacy environmental justice issues. This technical assistance will support communities seeking increased healthy food access, community connections and overall revitalization and economic recovery near designated Superfund sites.   

“Communities that have faced long-term impacts from local Superfund sites may be ideal candidates for participation in the Local Foods, Local Places program,” said Cliff Villa, deputy assistant administrator for Land and Emergency Management. “These three pilot workshops will help communities learn how the program can help them provide healthy local foods and benefit the local economy.” 

Since 2014, the Local Foods, Local Places program has provided assistance to 137 communities across the country.  

The town of Spring City plans to bring together several local groups to improve access to local foods, with new community gardens and a farmers’ market to address priority health challenges such as obesity. The work will be coordinated with downtown revitalization planning efforts to create community gardens as green infrastructure, to mitigate flooding risks and promote community gathering places.

“The town of Spring City is proud to have been selected to be part of the Local Foods, Local Places program,” said Stephania Motes, city manager. “Our focus will be to create a farmers market and a community garden to help meet community needs as well as to boost our downtown revitalization efforts and to Agri-tourism in the area.” 

The Rabbit Valley Farmers Market, Inc. in Ringgold envisions farmers markets not only as a place to purchase fresh local foods, support local agriculture and promote healthier lifestyles, but also as a community gathering place for socialization, celebration and connection. The farmer’s market is seeking to collaborate with a more diverse set of local partners to improve community awareness about the market and related food programs on childhood health, nutrition education, improved food access and utilizing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. 

Other local environmental education initiatives include composting, water conservation and community gardening. “My hope for this project is to create a more community-centered downtown and market, with a collective focus on health, wellbeing, environmental stewardship and service to others,” said Samantha Leslie, executive director of the Rabbit Valley Farmers Market. 


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