This year, my responsibilities at The Highland Center include promoting local foods and producers through a website called Faces of Farmers. Its aim is to showcase regional farmers so that consumers can “know who [their] food comes from.”
Farms in Highland and four nearby counties including Alleghany and Bath counties in Virginia, and Pendleton, and Pocahontas counties in West Virginia can join the site, describe their practices, and highlight their various specialties—including meat, produce, and value-added products. Visitors to the site can view farms by county or by product, find places that sell local foods, and learn about opportunities such as farm stays, internships, or apprenticeships.
With support from the USDA’s Farmers’ Market Promotion Program grant, my coworkers and I have been adding new farms, promoting existing farms, updating the site, and, over the past few months, making a short video with a local filmmaker. The video features the region’s food system and some of the farmers, businesses, and consumers that contribute to its vibrancy.