Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $490,647 in federal funding to Virginia Tech for the planning of a project to accelerate forest farming and grow the non-timber forest product (NTFP) industry in Central Appalachia.

“We’re glad to see these federal dollars go towards supporting Appalachian Sustainable Development in its efforts to make Southwest Virginia and Central Appalachia a leader in the NTFP market. This project will cultivate a generation of new forest farmers in Southwest Virginia and help grow a sustainable stock of NTFPshelping create new economic development opportunities for the region,” the Senators said.

“I strongly believe that the key to transforming Appalachia’s economic vitality can be found in vision and collaboration across state lines. I’m encouraged by the way our newest ARISE grantees have come together to forge plans that will greatly increase workforce development and business ventures in ways that will positively affect the entire region,” said Gayle Manchin, the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Federal Co-Chair.

This planning grant will be utilized by Virginia Tech and its two partners – Appalachian Sustainable Development in Duffield, Va. and Mill Creek Creative in Floyd, Va. – to help jumpstart a plan to accelerate Appalachia’s forest farming industry and grow the market for non-timber forest products in Central Appalachia. This includes medicinal plants, edible products such as mushrooms and honey, ornamental products like garlands and burl, and landscape products like mulch. Funding will be used to establish a plan that examines the economic viability of individual and collective forest farming business ventures across Southwest Virginia and Central Appalachia, creating a roadmap for programs and services to deliver a broad spectrum of market-centered opportunities for Appalachian residents and localities. In addition to ARC funds, local sources will provide $327,093 in matching funds, bringing the total project funding to $817,740.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of Appalachian Sustainable Development’s efforts to grow the NTFP market. Sen. Warner personally advocated for this planning grant.

This funding was awarded through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)'s Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE) initiative, which aims to drive large scale, regional economic transformation through multistate, collaborative investments.