Wild Ramp hopes to expand beyond WV by asking people to ‘like’ D - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Wild Ramp hopes to expand beyond WV by asking people to 'like' Dutch Miller Kia

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Some home-grown, West Virginia help is hinging on how many people like a local business.

Huntington's community market, The Wild Ramp, wants people to like Dutch Miller Kia – in the Facebook way.

The auto dealer has pledged a van to the market if Dutch Miller Kia can get 1,000 Facebook "likes" through Wild Ramp.

"(Dutch Miller Kia Owner) Chris Miler and his wife, Cassie, are very interested in healthy eating and healthy food, so when we approached them about doing a corporate sponsorship, they were thrilled to do that – I think that was in December," explained Wild Ramp Board President Gail Patton. "This winter, soon after that, … he contacted me and asked ‘what else can we do,' so I was thrilled to hear that, of course."

Patton said she told Miller the market could sell a lot more local food if they had a way to physically move it from point A, such as Athens or Pomeroy, Ohio, to Point B – the store.

"He said, ‘I'll be glad to lease you a van for $1 a year if you can find it in your budget to pay for gas and insurance,' and I said we'll die trying," she said.

The Wild Ramp is a non-profit that's supported by the community. Patton said they have corporate sponsors who help with $700 per month donations that pay the rent for the store, located at Heritage Station in downtown Huntington.

"Our mission is to make local food available to people in Huntington and connect the producers and consumers," Patton said. "The reason we exist is because we wanted to make local food more available to people in the tri-state area, and so we are a year-round, open now five days a week, market.

"Our goal is to grow the farms and help the farmers make more money; if they make more money, then we'll have more local food available to our area."

And the mission is one Miller, who is married to a health coach, wants to advance.

"I understand completely how big of a wreck our food system is, and the big, industrialized food machine is really what's wreaking havoc on our lives and our health, because we're ingesting nothing but chemicals and crap day in and day out," Miller said.

"I'm doing what I can; they're in need of increasing their supply lines, and I thought let's make this a win-win."

Miller has spent time volunteering at the market, and said it was an easy decision to help Wild Ramp get a vehicle. The van he plans to lease the market is a few years old and in excellent shape, Miller said.

And he has such a big heart that he's not going to let a few "likes," get in the market's way.

"They will wind up with the van no matter what," Miller said.

But Patton says Wild Ramp is turning up the heat on their end of the deal.

"It's supposed to be for our birthday, which will be July 11, and we're hoping to get it done before that," she said. "If we could be using this van right this minute, we could be making a difference, so we're getting impatient; it's right there, but we can't use it yet."

Patton said the agreement was to get Dutch Miller 1,000 additional "likes" on its Facebook page, so it started with 595, and the goal is to get the dealer to 1,595 "likes," in order to get the van. As of 1:15 p.m. May 13, Dutch Miller Kia had 1,186 "likes."

Patton said the market has such widespread, community support it has been able to succeed and grow with no government money or grants.

And she has several more goals in her sights, including helping get local foods to the Cabell County School System for students.

"It's been an amazing journey, and we have just been humbled by the response of the community, and we're asking them for even more help," she said.

Click here to find Dutch Miller Kia on Facebook to help The Wild Ramp get its van.