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Alliance agricultural program promotes entrepreneurship and local food

SAGE_withCAAAccording to the West Virginia Small Farm Center, West Virginians spent $7.8 billion on food in 2012, but agriculture in the state only grossed $550 million.

Capturing more of the food market in West Virginia, promoting local foods and teaching entrepreneurship are three key goals of the Charleston Area Alliance’s Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurs (SAGE) program.

SAGE creates economic opportunities and jobs for participants, while minimizing the impact to the environment through sustainable agriculture practices and improving access to healthier food options. Their hard work means more fresh, local produce in Charleston. SAGE began in 2013 with the creation of the first urban micro-farm on Ohio Avenue on Charleston’s West Side.

The Alliance continues to support SAGE graduates who have used their training to form a growing collective they’ve named, “SAGEgrown.” These graduates prepared for the growing season by forming a business plan that included growing cooperatively in urban spaces and selling sustainable micro-farm products to local consumers and restaurants.

The newly minted “SAGEgrown” operators expanded to a new site in early March, when SAGE’s second micro-farm opened near Rebecca Street on Charleston’s West Side. SAGE graduates will continue to be incubated at Rebecca Street through support provided by the Alliance, as they gain more experience and launch their “agri-enterprise.”

The Rebecca Street micro-farm doubled the amount of growing space. The micro-farm includes heirloom tomatoes, red and golden beets, cooking greens, cut flowers and much more.

“It’s an exciting venture that requires hard work,” said Kathy Moore, a SAGE graduate and current grower. “The SAGE business model allows us to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities while addressing a serious need of the community — access to fresh, local and sustainably grown produce.”

“SAGEgrown” sell their produce at the East End Bazaar every Saturday throughout the summer. Shoppers can purchase a variety of fresh produce, herbs and cut flowers through the growing season. The East End Bazaar is located at the corner of Ruffner Avenue and Washington Street West. It is open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. every Saturday.

If you would like to get products from one of the two SAGE farms in downtown Charleston, please contact Kathy Moore at SAGEgrown@gmail.com.

“This program is exemplifies sustainable economic and community development,” said Matthew Ballard, President/CEO of the Charleston Area Alliance.

“SAGE positively impacts Charleston’s West Side. It builds entrepreneurship, it creates positive local economic impact, it promotes local foods and reduces costs that restaurants pay for transporting foods from outside the area. It builds economic wealth, it’s sustainable, and it’s healthy. The Alliance couldn’t be more thrilled to see the success of these agriculture entrepreneurs and their hard work.”

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admin in Announcements,SAGE on July 22 2014 » 0 comments
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