Volunteer organization trying to create community grocery in McDowell County

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MCDOWELL COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — A non-profit organization in McDowell County is trying to fight the problems labeling the area a food desert.

Economic Development Greater East began in 2016 with the goal of growing and supporting local farmers in the area. Volunteers with the non-profit hope their plan for a Mountain Farm Community Grocery will do just that.

“What the community grocery is focused on first is we are going to source from local producers and grow producers here in our region,” said Crystal Cook Marshall, the Co-Founder of E.D.G.E.

At E.D.G.E., they said the key to a healthy economy is a healthy population. Which is why they want to give local farmers the chance to earn a profit while giving the community a source of local and healthy food.

“We wanna give people here hope, we want to help inspire hope in them and we want to help them improve their health,” said Amelia Bandy, the Executive Director of E.D.G.E.

At one point the area had an anchor institution. However, when WalMart closed its location in the county in 2016, the area became what is known as a food desert, meaning there is not a significant source of quality food in the area.

“McDowell county lacked an anchor institution or a place to help this economic sector grow, and we were very lucky that some of the folks that got involved with us knew about this building here and we were able to acquire this building here,” said Cook Marshall.

In creating the Mountain Farm Community Grocery, they also want to provide an opportunity for new farmers and producers to grow.

Jason Tartt operates a small farm in McDowell County. He said he is passionate about showing the younger generation the opportunities and benefits farming creates.

He said as a farmer, he is grateful for what E.D.G.E. wants to do for his job and his community.

“It would create a lot of jobs, a lot of small businesses and could definitely play a big part of turning this community around,” said Tartt.

Volunteers at E.D.G.E. are asking for help from the community. In order to secure funding to complete the community grocery, they need to raise $20,000 in matching funds by the end of February.

Those who want to support the project can do so by clicking the link

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