Melissa returned to rural communities in Appalachia this spring where she has worked in many different locations, this time in Kentucky and Ohio to see programs funded by The Ford Foundation. Ford works with “visionary leaders and organizations on the front lines of social change.” Their goal is to “narrow the gulf between poverty and promise.”
In Appalachian Ohio, Green Edge Gardens is a family owned organic farm that hires young, local workers who grow and pick micro greens, carefully sorting them for restaurants and at the market. Ten green houses sit on the bottomland of 120 acres where spring-fed ponds water specialty items such as Shiitake mushrooms and lush, seasonal vegetables . They find support from Rural Action that developed out of grass roots by concerned citizens who care about a higher quality of life –meaning clean water and sustainable agriculture. Some of their many programs support the local farmer’s markets and a produce auction.
Although the Ford Foundation is global, their Appalachian programs promote collaboration among nonprofit, government and business sectors. Their desire is to build common understanding to enable people to improve their lives. They distribute $422 million in grants annually on such issues ensuring good jobs, improving housing and sustainable agriculture.