Growing Appalachia | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Growing Appalachia

Growing Appalachia

7th Annual Growing Appalachia Conference

Growing Appalachia is a day of workshops about small-scale farming, energy efficiency and renewables sponsored by the Big Sandy chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. This year's conference will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday March 5, 2016 at the Jenny Wiley Convention Center near Prestonsburg. We hope people attending can gain some practical skills and knowledge so that they can find ways to stay and thrive in the mountains by making their own jobs or saving money through small-scale farming, energy efficiency, and renewables.

To find out more about the history of the conference or to read about previous years, visit the Growing Appalachia page on our website. You can also check out this article from the Community Farm Alliance Breaking Beans Project for an interview with Beverly May, one of the founding members of the conference.

If you’re interested in getting involved with conference, we would love to hear from you! Contact Jessie Skaggs at 606-263-4982 or send her an email.

Learn more about our presenters at this year's conference here.


9:00 a.m.

Registration opens

9:30 a.m.

Welcome, overview of the day, and acknowledgements

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.





First round of workshops (choose one)

Growing berries and brambles (Alan Moore) – In this workshop, Alan will cover the basics of growing berries for your family or for sale, including selecting a site, choosing the right variety of berry, pruning, and discouraging pests.

Industrial hemp (Todd Howard) – Kentucky was once the country's top producer of this versatile crop, and helped to generate fiber for rope, clothing, and other uses in the World War II era. It became illegal because of its similar appearance to marijuana, and it is now becoming legal again though it is carefully regulated. Learn about local projects to jumpstart the hemp economy in Eastern KY through new and innovative uses of this ancient crop and how you can be a part of these efforts.

Sustainable timber and forest management (Kristy Whitaker, Jake Hall, and James Madden, Kentucky Division of Forestry) – The forests of Eastern KY have been managed in a haphazard fashion over the past 150 years. Small scale logging operations negotiate with small landowners to cut timber from the steep hillsides, and they usually take the highest value logs and leave the rest. This has caused the quality and value of the region's timber stands to deteriorate over time. Come learn from forestry professionals about how to better manage your forested property and how to access government funding for management activities.

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.


Second round of workshops (choose one)

So you want to grow a vegetable garden? (Sister Kathy Curtis) – This workshop will cover the basics for starting a vegetable garden from site location to vegetable selection. In addition to learning what questions to ask in setting up a small vegetable garden, participants will be given an extensive listing of groups, agencies and websites that will be useful long after the workshop is complete.

Selling your arts and crafts on Etsy (Jennifer Reis) – This introductory presentation covers Etsy basics like creating a shop name and brand, understanding search engine optimization and keywords, taking quality photography, writing maker and item narratives, and building and maintaining customer relationships. Participants will leave with foundational skills to be successful online selling. If you've ever wondered about the possibilities of selling through Etsy, or perhaps would like some tips on increasing visibility and sales with an existing store, this brief session will assist you in getting started or getting better with online commerce for artisans. This session is offered in partnership with the Kentucky Arts Council, a resource for all the state's artists, artisans and communities.

A Seat at the Table: Energy and Just Transition in Eastern Kentucky (Chris Wooley, MACED; Jacob Mack-Boll) – Eastern Kentucky is being impacted by dramatic shifts in the nation’s energy landscape, with market and regulatory forces that are directly affecting thousands of livelihoods. Join us for a conversation about how to help make this transition fair, transparent, and democratic – and learn about millions of dollars that could be available to support transition efforts here, including in agriculture and energy, and find out how you can personally help to bring about a brighter future in Kentucky.

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.


Lunch panel: Lots to learn from Letcher County! Hear from a group of folks working to make local foods more accessible to everyone! Panelists include Harry Collins, Educator and Letcher County Extension Board Chair; Chris Caudill, Letcher County Magistrate; Janet Kincer, Appal-TREE Community Outreach; and Abby Maggard, Whitesburg/Letcher County Farmers Market. Panel moderated by Valerie Horn of Community Farm Alliance.

2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Third round of workshops (choose one)

Open session – Did you run into someone you’ve been meaning to have a conversation with? Do you have questions for a presenter? Have a great idea but don’t know where to start? This is your time! We often get feedback that many folks want more time to connect, ask questions, and learn from of each other. So this year, we’re trying something new - we’re offering an open session where folks can gather and connect with each other.

Food hubs (Carl Chadband, KISRA) – One of the biggest challenges to growing a local food economy is creating a system that allows a large number of growers to efficiently supply large regional demand. Food hubs act as a middleman by taking in the produce from growers, sorting and packing it, then delivering it to end users such as restaurants, schools, and hospitals. This session will explain efforts to expand a successful Virginia food hub model into WV.

Getting started with backyard chickens (Chris Steele) – If you’ve ever wanted to access to fresh eggs but didn’t know how to get started, this workshop is for you! Learn about the basics of keeping chickens, including managing chickens, how to collect and clean eggs, and safety practices. Also find out how you can sell your eggs at the farmer's market!


Growing Appalachia made possible by the generous support of:






March 5, 2016 - 9:00am to 4:30pm
Event Organizer: 
Jessie Skaggs
Contact Email: 
Event Venue: 
Jenny Wiley Convention Center
Event Location: 
75 Theatre Court
Prestonsburg, KY 41653