Organized Session, Workshop or Roundtable Title

Huntington Local: A Social Enterprise Approach to the Local Food Economy

Participation Type

Organized Session

Participant Type


Organized Session, Workshop or Roundtable Abstract

Local Food Economy Although local buying gained momentum in metropolitan areas across the country as early as 2005, local food in West Virginia is blooming as a trend in eating and economics. This panel will feature speakers that have contributed to the start-up and growth of a local foods movement based on creating new opportunities in West Virginia's economy.

Huntington got its first taste of the local foods movement in 2012, when a group of farmers and consumers came together to launch The Wild Ramp, an innovative year round market for farmers. The Wild Ramp, operates as a social enterprise with an economy focused mission. Local Farms have sold over $1 million of products in three years. Now The Wild Ramp is part of a network of organizations focused on enhancing the success of farmers. Unlimited Future, Robert C. Byrd Institute, and Coalfield Development are economic development focused non profit organizations looking at the local food system to create new economic opportunities on the local and regional scale.


Lauren Kemp

At-A-Glance Bio- Organizer

Lauren Kemp is the Local Foods Program Director at Unlimited Future, Inc. Lauren coordinates business training for farmers and manages the 30 Mile Meal Huntington Program, which promotes the use of local farm-raised food in restaurants, schools and other food service operations. She has served on the Wild Ramp's Board of Directors since 2012.

Presentation #1 Title

Discovering Local Food

Presentation #1 Abstract

Gail Patton will tell the story of her journey into the local food world and her special interest in locally driven economic development. Gail is a key founder of the Wild Ramp and sees the market as an opportunity to grow small businesses in the Tri-State Area.

At-A-Glance Bios- Participant #1

Gail Patton is the Executive Director of Unlimited Future, Inc., a small business incubator in Huntington. She comes from an entrepreneurial family and is passionate about small business. Gail grew up on a farm and loves to eat farm fresh food. Her goal is to make farm fresh food as available to the community as Wendy’s or McDonald’s fast food. Gail and her husband Paul own Top Hat Ballroom where they teach social ballroom dance. They have two grandsons who provide much joy in their lives.

Presentation #2 Title

Refresh: Workforce Training with Compassion

Presentation #2 Abstract

Ben Gilmer is the President of Refresh Appalachia, which is part of the Coalfield Development Corporation's social enterprise family. Coalfield Development has a unique approach to workforce development, that combines hands on job training with life skills and degree seeking community college coursework. Coalfield's approach tackles both economic and social issues, striving for profound change one person at a time. Refresh Appalachia will boost the supply side of the local food economy by growing growers, rebuilding a food system, and increasing fresh food access in low income coalfield communities.

At-A-Glance Bios- Participant #2

Ben Gilmer has over 10 years of experience in the non-profit, government, academic, and private sectors. Born and raised on a farm in Russell County, Virginia, his specialties include natural resource management, economic and community development, land use planning, and sustainable agriculture. He has worked on natural resource management and economic development projects in the U.S., Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and the Caribbean; but his favorite place to work is right here at home in Central Appalachia. Ben has a Masters in Geography from West Virginia University and a BSc. degree in Geography from Radford University.

Presentation #3 Title

Local Food Corridor and Regional Impact

Presentation #3 Abstract

The Robert C. Byrd Institute has historically help small to mid sized manufacturing businesses grow and increase competitiveness. RBCI launched the Agriculture Innovations project to apply their expertise in LEAN manufacturing and prototype design to agriculture. The program sponsored a connectivity study for the food hubs that are growing across West Virginia. Bill Woodrum the Program Director, will share his perspective on the future of agriculture as a productive industry in West Virginia.

At-A-Glance Bios- Participant #3

Bill Woodrum is the Project Coordinator for the Robert C. Byrd Institute’s Agricultural Innovations program. At RCBI, he focuses on introducing technology advances from the manufacturing industry into agriculture and building a stronger food supply system in the state of West Virginia. Bill lives in Winfield, WV with his wife, Lori, and their son, Alex, on farm land that has been in his family for nearly 200 years. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Marshall University and a Masters in Agricultural Education from The Ohio State University.


Agriculture and Agrarian Systems, Collaboration, Food and Nutrition, Social Movements

Start Date

4-8-2016 3:30 PM

End Date

4-8-2016 5:00 PM

Apr 8th, 3:30 PM Apr 8th, 5:00 PM

Discovering Local Food

Big Sandy Conference Center - Tech Room 02

Gail Patton will tell the story of her journey into the local food world and her special interest in locally driven economic development. Gail is a key founder of the Wild Ramp and sees the market as an opportunity to grow small businesses in the Tri-State Area.


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