ATLANTA -- The Appalachian communities of Berea, Kentucky; Forest City, North Carolina; New Albany, Mississippi; and North Wilkesboro, North Carolina have been selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to receive technical assistance and implementation support through the Livable Communities in Appalachia 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.
“The Southeast has traditionally relied on agriculture, and helping Appalachian communities expand and improve access to locally-grown foods in downtown areas is good for people, the economy and the planet,” said EPA Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney. “EPA is pleased to support these projects in Kentucky, Mississippi and North Carolina that will allow small towns to improve their livability by promoting economic development while safeguarding the local landscape.”
The 2014 Livable Communities program focuses on developing local food systems as a means of revitalizing traditional downtowns and promoting economic diversification. The selected communities worked with their Local Development Districts or their local university or community college to submit their applications. The federal support will enable a team of small town development experts to work with each community to plan the local production and distribution of healthy foods.
Sixty-three communities applied for assistance; four communities in EPA Region 4 were selected in this round. The winners of the competition will receive assistance on the following projects:
- Berea, Kentucky will convert a 1.4-acre city lot into a production and educational facility for urban agriculture.
- Forest City, North Carolina will work to relocate the Rutherford County Farmers Market to downtown Forest City and create a regional Agriculture Innovations Center.
- New Albany, Mississippi will develop a farmers market as part of a downtown riverfront mixed-use redevelopment with new walkways and bike paths.
- North Wilkesboro, North Carolina will diversify its economy by relocating and expanding a farmers market in a vacant lot in the downtown.
Huntington, West Virginia in EPA Region 3 will also receive assistance to develop a local food system focused on education, increased access to nutrition, and economic and environmental sustainability.
Learn more at http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/specialprojects.htm.
Connect with EPA Region 4 on Facebook: www.facebook.com/eparegion4
And on Twitter: @USEPASoutheast