Who we are

The Coalition represents a diverse group of stakeholders Including:

Virginia Tech, Penn State University, and NC State University

Beginning and Established Forest Farmers

Non-governmental Sector

State and Federal Government

Project Team

The project is funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and is supported in part by the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Partners are located from Georgia to Pennsylvania. The team includes four non-governmental organizations (Appalachian Sustainable Development; Blue Ridge Woodland Growers; Rural Action; United Plant Savers), three universities (Virginia TechNorth Carolina State; Penn State), extension (Southern Regional Extension Forestry), three agency partners (National Agroforestry Center; Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry; and US Forest Service’s Southern Research Station), along with forest farmers and other key stakeholders.

Supporting Organizations

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provides leadership and funding for programs that advance agriculture-related sciences. We invest in and support initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. Since the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) authorized its creation, NIFA has taken significant strides toward enhancing the impact of food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences. NIFA applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. NIFA collaborates with leading scientists, policymakers, experts, and educators in organizations throughout the world to find innovative solutions to the most pressing local and global problems. Scientific progress, made through discovery and application:

• Advances the competitiveness of American agriculture
• Bolsters the U.S. economy
• Enhances the safety of the nation’s food supply
• Improves the nutrition and well-being of American citizens
• Sustains natural resources and the environment
• Builds energy independence

In partnership with other federal science agencies, NIFA also serves as a vital contributor to science policy decision-making. Visit nifa.usda.gov for more information.


Appalachian Sustainable Development is working to make a difference in Central Appalachia. Food insecurity, poverty and job loss in the 15 counties they serve are extremely high. So, what are they doing about it? They’re giving Appalachians the tools they need to fight poverty, revitalize their communities and protect their natural resources. In the Appalachian region where ASD operates, there is great need for collaborative strategies that make the most of the limited resources available. In addition to the high rates of poverty, unemployment and lifestyle diseases, the people who live in this beautiful area are often geographically and topographically distant from markets, services, and each other. To learn more about what they do, visit asdevelop.org
Blue Ridge Woodland Growers is a community group, in Virginia’s Grayson and Carroll Counties and surrounding areas, focused on figuring out the complexities of producing and marketing non-timber forest products (ex. woodland medicinals, fruits, nuts, berries). The group emerged in 2014 and since then they have facilitated seven workshops, eight planning meetings, and three pilot projects focused on non-timber forest products. Over 130 people are part of their network. Their vision is to form a strong local and regional network that connects and supports growers, processors, buyers, and consumers of products from their fields and forests. Their mission is to develop connections between growers, processors, buyers, and consumers in their community and region while sharing and learning skills important for successful entrepreneurship around non-timber forest products.
Rural Action’s mission is to foster social, economic, and environmental justice in Appalachian Ohio. They envision a region of clean streams, healthy forests, thriving family farms, meaningful jobs for everyone, lively towns that remember local history and celebrate their stories, music, arts, and crafts, and people working together to make this vision a reality. Rural Action builds model sustainable development projects and encourages a broad civic conversation around Appalachian Ohio’s assets in order to create sustainable development paths for the region. Although chartered for all 32 counties in the Appalachian Ohio region, Rural Action’s home office is based in northern Athens County. Its members and projects are concentrated in Athens and the six counties surrounding it: Meigs, Vinton, Washington, Hocking, Morgan, and Perry. We also work in Tuscarawas, Stark, and Carroll County. Rural Action gladly responds to requests for partnership and information from around the Appalachian region. Visit ruralaction.org for more information.
United Plant Savers’ mission is to protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come. Where once herbal enterprises were few and far between, it is now a competitive marketplace which has increased the demand on wild medicinal plant resources. Furthermore, other countries with an uninterrupted tradition of herbalism are experiencing a severe shortage of medicinal plants and look to the North American continent for supplying these herbs. This increased usage along with habitat destruction is causing an ever-increasing shortage of wild plant resources, including some of our most treasured medicinal species. The work of United Plant Savers involves research, education and conservation of native medicinal plants and their habitats. To join this worthwhile and important mission, visit www.unitedplantsavers.org. UpS is a 501 (C)3 non-profit organization.
Southern Regional Extension Forestry’sgoal is to identify, prescribe, and implement a mix of education and technical services that increase the efficiency of forestry programs in the southern United States. In 1979, the thirteen Southern 1862 Land-Grant institutions and the USDA Forest Service signed a cooperative agreement creating the Southern Regional Extension Forester position to serve as a liason role between the USDA Forest Service and the thirteen Extension Forest Resources units in the South. The position has evolved into a regional programming, representation, promotion,and communication role within the forestry and natural resource communities regionally and nationally. Visit www.sref.info for more information.
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is charged with maintaining and preserving the 120 state parks; managing the 2.2 million acres of state forest land; providing information on the state’s ecological and geologic resources; and establishing community conservation partnerships with grants and technical assistance to benefit rivers, trails, greenways, local parks and recreation, regional heritage parks, open space and natural areas. Visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us for more information.
NC Alternative Crops and Organics is an outreach tool for Jeanine Davis in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University to share information from her agricultural research and extension programs on organic farming, medicinal herbs, hops, truffles, and other alternative crops. Visit http://ncherb.org for more information.
Virginia Tech is one of four departments within the College of Natural Resources and Environment and is one of the top programs in natural resource management in the United States. Our top-flight education and research focus on the latest applications to uncover the science needed to manage forests and other natural resources. Our programs are diverse and approach critical natural resource issues from many disciplinary perspectives. From protected areas management and economic policy to forest soil productivity, urbanization, and genomics, we seek to discover new knowledge and technology to address the global challenges to come.
Penn State – Shaver’s Creek was founded in 1976 as a resource for the community, and as a field laboratory for Penn State students to get hands-on experience teaching about the natural world. The programs at our Environmental Center, Outdoor School, Raptor Center, and Team Development Center provide a mix of educational and recreational opportunities for families, schools, corporate groups, and Penn State students.
The USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) accelerates the application of agroforestry through a national network of partners. Together, they conduct research, develop technologies and tools, coordinate demonstrations and training, and provide useful information to natural resource professionals.

Advisory Board