A Fair Food System: Summit 2 Recap

Summit Two
August 25, 2022 9:00AM–1:00PM EST


We are proud to welcome a litany of talented food systems experts from across Appalachia. Below, you can read about each speaker slated to present at the second session of A Fair Food System: A Summit on Scalable Solutions to Creating Community Food Systems. 


Adam Hudson, Refresh Appalachia

Adam Hudson is the Director of Refresh Appalachia, the agriculture program of Coalfield Development. Adam grew up on a small farm in West Virginia, where he worked alongside his grandfather in the garden and the greenhouses. After earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2017 from Berea College in Kentucky, he moved back to West Virginia and has been working with Refresh Appalachia for over 5 years. He has been a leading partner in the implementation of numerous federal grants, including ARC Power grants, USDA LFPP and RFSP grants, totaling more than 5 Million dollars in investment. Adam’s motto is “agriculture is the answer” because agriculture affects all of us every day and has the potential to solve many of our most serious challenges, from public health issues to environmental threats.


Ben Kerrick, Karen Karp & Partners (KK&P)

Ben Kerrick is a public service-oriented food systems professional with extensive knowledge of and experience with diverse food system stakeholders and projects. Since joining KK&P in 2014, his work has focused on community engagement, placemaking, food system mapping, data visualization, program and event design, and research and analysis. Much of his work has focused on regional and community-scale projects involving multiple stakeholders, primary and secondary research, and action plans for food system initiatives. In addition to extensive work in NYC, he has managed or supported KK&P projects in locales including Maine, Louisiana, North Carolina, Connecticut, upstate New York, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, California’s Bay Area, the Mid-South Delta, and Appalachia. Ben holds Master’s degrees in Environmental Science and City & Regional Planning from The Ohio State University.


Dana York, Grand Oak Farm & Green Earth Connection

Dana York, Green Earth Connection Consultant, retired from USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service after a 34year career with the agency. During her career Dana worked at all levels of NRCS, from working with farmers on conservation planning and BMP implementation to being the Associate Chief of the agency managing a $3.2 billion budget

Dana started Green Earth Connection when she retired, a consulting organization that works with agricultural and environmental organizations and agencies on issues related to the agricultural, environmental and local food production issues. Her expertise in curriculum development and training implementation results in participants gaining new knowledge and skills to be more successful while maintaining economic and environmental viability. Dana currently works with the Appalachian Resource Conservation & Development Council to teach beginning farmer courses. In the last seven years with ARDC, she designed curriculum and trained over 200 beginning farmers in East Tennessee on business planning & starting an agricultural business, and launched a women farmer’s network to help create community & information sharing to East TN, VA and NC farm women. Dana also has taught over 140 women as the creator and facilitator of the Women and Land Conservation Learning Circles for American Farmland Trust in VA and PA.

Upon retirement, Dana also returned to her family farm, Grand Oak Farm. Dana’s family farm has been around longer than Tennessee has been a state. Since 1778, now in its 10th generation as Grand Oak Farm, Dana continues with tradition while also opening her farm as an incubator to farming couples for them to start their business and gain capital to help to accelerate the purchase of their own farm.


Jason Tartt, Sr., T & T Organics, EDGE

Jason B. Tartt, Sr is an entrepreneur, farmer, business owner and community servant most passionate about exposing the fortune Appalachia possesses, to enrich our communities, families and build sustainable business opportunities for future generations. He operates T & T Organics and is a co-founder of Economic Development Greater East (EDGE) in McDowell County, WV.

Jason is originally from the Vallscreek community in McDowell County, West Virginia and a graduate of Bluefield High School, in Bluefield, WV. In 2010 Tartt, Sr. returned to West Virginia with his family in tow after a military and Department of Defense contracting career. He has spent the better part of ten years working to understand, define and create awareness and education around the viability of agribusiness in the region.

Tartt has been an ambassador for change, co-founding Economic Development Greater East (EDGE) and several other organizations to identify economic drivers and develop models around food and agriculture, clean energy, tourism and community health. He has developed training and experiential learning environments for budding food producers and future business owners.


Jodi Adams, Grow Ohio Valley

Jodi Adams is from the Ohio Valley, growing up in Shadyside, OH.  After attending The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, Jodi went on to build a career in multi-store/business in the retail and restaurant industries.  In her last few roles, she has led the process to scale brands from the start-up phase to established businesses.  Jodi plays a duel role at Grow Ohio Valley, acting both as the General Manager of The Public Market and the Chief People Officer of the organization.  Her passion lies in driving results through the development of people and their leadership skills.




Katie Commender, ASD Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub

In 2016, ASD Agroforestry Program Director Katie received her Master’s in Forestry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she served as the graduate teaching assistant for the agroforestry class and researched preferences and intentions for riparian buffer adoption and retention. Today, Katie continues to teach the next generation of forest farmers as a founding member of the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition. In 2017, she founded the Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub to help medicinal herb farmers sustainably produce, process, and market herbs grown in agroforestry systems to premium markets. With Katie’s support, ASD’s Agroforestry program continues to expand, with an agroforestry train the trainer model for natural resource professionals and farmer technical and financial assistance for forest farming, alley cropping and silvopasture.


Katie Lloyd, Rural Action

Upon receiving a degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Miami University, Katie went on to serve in the Peace Corps in Cameroon for two years as an agriculture extension agent, working on various projects, including mushroom inoculations, tree distributions, and the creation of a modern beekeeping group in her village. After the Peace Corps, Katie pursued an MA in Climate Change and Global Sustainability.

Throughout her academics and service, Katie noticed an underlying theme of the importance of the local community, especially local food systems, in building resilience in the face of climate change. The communities best prepared for negative climate impacts were those that had a network of resources at hand for local and diversified income from agriculture.

In her role as the Beginning Farmer Outreach Assistant at Rural Action, Katie shares resources and connects farmers with peer mentorship opportunities that feed directly into building capacity and resilience to change that allows all parties to grow and flourish in our local food system.

Louis Aspey, Natural Resources Conservation Service

As Associate Chief, Louis ensures that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation mission is carried out in line with the Chief’s priorities and with an emphasis on doing what’s best for the agency’s customers. He provides national leadership and coordination across the following NRCS deputy areas:  Programs, Soil Science and Resource Assessment, Science and Technology, and Management and Strategy.

Louis has served in multiple leadership positions with NRCS and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during his 30-year career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Chief for Management and Strategy. In that position, he led the establishment of the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production and oversaw workload analysis, budget formulation and execution, outreach and partnerships, strategic support services, and international programs.

Prior to arriving at NRCS’s National Headquarters, Louis served as the State Conservationist in West Virginia. During his tenure, he, along with his staff and partners, addressed broad-scale flooding, water supply, and food resiliency challenges. These issues are some of the greatest barriers to economic prosperity in Appalachia and often disproportionately impact underserved and disadvantaged communities.


Maggie Bowling, Old Homeplace Farm

Owned Maggie Bowling and her husband Will, Old Homeplace Farm is a family farm in Clay County, Kentucky that strives to be an ecologically responsible farm. They practice rotational grazing so their animals receive fresh pasture every day, multispecies grazing to better manage their permanent pastures’ forage growth, and composting to increase soil quality. The farm maintains a number of honeybee hives for vegetable field & orchard pollination, as well as controlling their fields’ white clover blooms, and adhere to all of the vegetable growing policies and guides put into place by the National Organic Program.

Maggie Bowling is in charge of vegetable production, as well as product sales and delivery. Before becoming a full time farmer, she worked at Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County, coordinating the Grow Appalachia Project for four seasons. Maggie was raised on a certified organic vegetable farm, where she learned at a young age that farming is a process of continual learning (which is now one of the reasons she loves this vocation).


Molly Sowash,  Rural Action

Molly is the Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager. She began with Rural Action in 2019 as an AmeriCorps member, serving two terms with the Sustainable Agriculture program after moving home to Ohio. In 2016 she graduated from Macalester College with a Bachelor’s degree in English (Creative Writing) with a minor in Religious Studies. After college, Molly worked with youth on urban farms with Youth Farm and taught food education in the Minnesota public schools with Midwest Food Connection. During summers, she worked on produce and cattle farms that were the inspiration for her current operation raising grass-fed beef on her family’s property in Athens, Ohio.



Vincent DeGeorge, Grow Ohio Valley

Dr. Vincent DeGeorge is a lifelong West Virginian and since 2018 has been with Grow Ohio Valley where he is currently the Site Operations Director & Wheeling Food Hub project lead. Vincent’s pursuit of community impact, opportunity, and innovation spans a scientific research background in advanced magnetic materials (PhD from Carnegie Mellon University and R&D in LA’s aerospace hub), environment- and peace-focused advocacy and freelance writing (from local media to the front page of the Sunday New York Times), before transitioning into urban farming & local food in the Upper Ohio Valley. Vincent’s projects at GrowOV include the 2018 ARC POWER grant opening the Public Market in 2018-19, the Restaurant-to-School COVID meal relief program, and currently the Wheeling Food Hub startup. Vincent also serves at the House of Hagar homeless outreach house and on the Wheeling Human Rights Commission.


Time   Topic   Presenters
9:00–9:10   Welcome to Day Two of the Summit Leslie Schaller, ACEnet
9:10–9:20   USDA Welcoming Remarks Louis Aspey, USDA, Associate Chief of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
9:20–10:00   Ag Innovator Spotlight Jason Tartt, Sr. of T&T Organics and Economic Development Greater East (EDGE), McDowell County, WV
10:00–11:15   Agriculture and Local Food Economics in the Appalachian Region, ARC Ben Kerrick, Senior Consultant

Adam Hudson, ReFresh Appalachia

Katie Commender,  Appalachian Sustainable Development Herb Hub™

11:15–11:30   Active Break Jennifer Weeber, Community Farm Alliance
11:30–11:50   Ag Innovator Spotlight Maggie Bowling, Old Homeplace Farm, Oneida, KY
11:50–12:50   Beginning Farmer Programming Panel Vincent George & Jodi Adams, Grow Ohio Valley
Katie Lloyd, Rural Action
Dana York, Grand Oak Farm & Green Earth Connection
12:50–1:00   Wrap-up & Highlights for Next Session Leslie Schaller, ACEnet