Giving Compass' Take:

Danielle Nierenberg and Emily Payne provide a list of organizations and individuals who are preserving the Appalachia's biodiversity through innovation and inclusion.

How can these efforts to preserve specific biodiversity in regions serve an example for other communities? What role can you play in support these organizations and others like them? 

Discover why indigenous communities are better at preserving biodiversity.

This fall, Food Tank and The Crop Trust traveled throughout Appalachia to highlight and celebrate its unique food cultures and agricultural diversity. As part of a multi-year, multi-country #CropsInColor campaign, we focused on the role of apples, beans, corn, tomatoes, squash, and chili peppers in the region.

“We have something special here,” Chef Ian Boden of Staunton, Virginia, tells Food Tank. “Everyone is always there for each other.” In Appalachia, inclusion is embedded in the culture, according to Boden. You show your love through your stomach, and no one is left unfed.

Here are 22 farmers, producers, academics, nonprofit leaders, seed savers, and chefs we visited who are preserving the biodiverse crops, cuisines, and culture of the Appalachian region through their work.

  1. Albemarle CiderWorks, North Garden, Virginia Starting as a specialty apple orchard, the family began grafting and selling their farm’s fruit trees in hopes of popularizing heirloom and distinctive apple varieties.
  2. Appalachian Institute for Mountain Studies, Southern Seed Legacy Project, Burnsville, North Carolina Through research, education, and application, the Appalachian Institute for Mountain Studies (AIMS) models sustainable human ecosystems that combine traditional knowledge from mountain cultures with appropriate technologies.
  3. Craig LeHoullier, Raleigh, North Carolina He co-leads the Dwarf Tomato Breeding Project, which has created more than 90 compact tomato varieties intended for gardeners with limited space to grow. He has named and popularized many well-known heirloom tomatoes in the region, like the Cherokee Purple.

Read the full article about organizations preserving the Appalachia's biodiversity by Danielle Nierenberg and Emily Payne at Food Tank.