The Central Appalachian Food and Agricultural Systems Working Group (FASWG) Processing, Aggregation, and Distribution (PAD) is a network of caring professionals who strive to accelerate the culturally responsive, small-acre mountain farming and local food economy in Central Appalachia.

You are welcome to join like-minded professionals working to see a day when we employ the region’s natural and cultural strengths to feed Central Appalachians, deeply value rural communities, share regional wealth and abundance, and empower traditionally marginalized communities to fully take part in the regional food system.

Why You Should Join

The Processing, Aggregation, and Distribution (PAD) Working Group strives to help farmers across Central Appalachia build better access to reach larger markets for their products.

Through monthly meetings, this Working Group strives to connect farmers and agricultural producers to the nonprofits/NGOs, funders, government agencies and businesses interested in impacting the potential for business growth, new jobs, and increased income that depends on the availability and access to infrastructure for value-added processing, product aggregation, and efficient distribution.

The Working Group discusses new opportunities for market growth and explores new resources to expand agricultural product distribution. New skills and knowledge you can gain from this Working Group:

  • Connect producers to markets
  • Provide and distribute educational materials
  • Create and promote marketing and training tools
  • Coordinate policy work
  • Facilitate collaboration among value chain participants
  • Some intermediary organizations also play additional roles in the value chain

This Group, and its participants, advocate (with funders, producers, and others) for the place-and-asset-based food and agriculture system we know we need.

  • Producers experience robust land access across the region that allows Central Appalachia to feed Central Appalachians.
  • Producers have the support, tools, and capital linkages necessary to establish and sustain profitable, regenerative farms. Currently plan to attain this through the eventual creation of a first-time buyers program that the group laid out in the summer of 2021 and is summarized here.
  • Farming in Central Appalachia is equitable and profitable because the risk and reward of farming are balanced and carbon sequestration supports farmer resilience and profitability.
  • Local food and subsequent nutritional security and health equity are the standards for consumers in Central Appalachia.
  • Central Appalachia’s processing, aggregation, and distribution infrastructure is anti-fragile because of collective planning and building; interregional production planning and distribution; strong local value chains; and mutually-beneficial rural-urban connections. In other words, the region’s infrastructure can withstand and ultimately benefit from unexpected stressors (like the COVID-19 pandemic).

Who Should Join

This Working Group strives to connect and supports those who are:

  • Considering implementing agriculture infrastructure (processing facilities, aggregation sites, or trucks/distribution)
  • Farmers or group of farmers needing PAD-related supported for accessing markets
  • Food hubs or others operating PAD infrastructure seeking to become more efficient and interested in regional collaboration

Join The Conversation

This Working Group meets monthly via Zoom. To get more information, contact:


  • Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD)
  • Appalachian RC&D
  • Community Farm Alliance
  • Value Chain Cluster Initiative
  • WV Department of Ag
  • Heart and Hand House
  • Rural Action
  • Grow Ohio Valley
  • ASD
  • ACEnet
  • Coalfield Development
  • WF Food and Farm Coalition
  • Grow Appalachia
  • Sprouting Farms
  • Community Food Initiatives
  • New Roots Community Farm

Stay Connected

Get the latest updates from this Working Group on CAN’s social channels

Read our current blogs

A Fair Food System: Summit 6 Speakers

Speakers We are proud to welcome a litany of talented food systems experts from across Appalachia. Below, you can read […]

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A Fair Food System: Summit 5 Recap

 Summit Five January 26, 2023 9:00AM–1:00PM EST Day Five Recording: Slides: CAN Summit 5 Slides Links & Additional Resources: […]

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A Fair Food System: Summit 2 Recap

Summit Two August 25, 2022 9:00AM–1:00PM EST Day Two Recording: Please note: YouTube copyright doesn’t allow the inclusion of the […]

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A Fair Food System: Summit 1 Recap

Summit One July 28, 2022 9:00AM–1:00PM EST Day One Recording: Day One Slides: Speakers We are proud to welcome a […]

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Farm on the Ridge: Farm Enterprises takes Grit and Gumption

A necessity for every gourmand, and our last entry, is Farm on the Ridge. Another staple at the Athens Farmer’s Market, you may have seen them on Saturday morning where they sell amazing pork products. In their own words, read how they got their start:

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Primaterra Farm: Farm Enterprises takes Grit and Gumption

Running a small business in Southeast Ohio takes hard work, tenacity, and gumption. People start small businesses for a number […]

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Additional Resources

Thriving local food economies can support the development of diversified and resilient economic bases, increase local control of wealth, empower local individuals and communities, increase self-sufficiency and decrease dependence on government benefits, and help to protect natural resources such as soil, water, and air quality.

CAN works to develop and strengthen local food value chains, which we define as supply chains infused with the triple bottom-line values of promoting financial, social, and environmental goals.  Local food value chains include producers, processors, aggregators, distributors, farmers markets, wholesale buyers, consumers, and a wide variety of important supporters.  In five sub-regions throughout Central Appalachia, CAN works to develop infrastructure, make connections, and build capacity to increase the profitability and sustainability of these value chains.

CAN’s participating organizations and many of our partners act as “intermediaries” in these chains.  Intermediaries:

  • Connect producers to markets
  • Provide and distribute educational materials
  • Create and promote marketing and training tools
  • Coordinate policy work
  • Facilitate collaboration among value chain participants
  • Some intermediary organizations also play additional roles in the value chain

Economic Impacts

CAN tracks economic impact indicators to show the growth of the local food system since 2009. The following chart shows the growth of the CAN-supported value chains according to several key measures. All measures are calculated in relation to 2009 data; that is, 2009 numbers establish the baseline, and subsequent growth for each measure is compared as a percentage increase over the 2009 number.

The total impacts for 2018 include:

  • 1,608 producers or food businesses participating in CAN-affiliated value chains
  • $20.1 Million in sales revenue to producers
  • $16.1 Million in purchases by 164 wholesale/institutional buyers
  • 1,478.5 Full time equivalent jobs, including 1,195.5 year-round positions
  • $3 Million in value chain investment, including $2.1 Million from sources within the value chain