Local gardeners and farmers and other interested individuals will have a chance to share a meal and discuss their growing experiences and attitudes toward local foods and healthy eating at the Second Annual Local Harvest Potluck on Thursday, November 18, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Heritage Park Community Building in Spencer, WV.

This event is free and open to the public. Participants are asked to bring a covered dish that consists, in part, of a locally grown food.

Several agencies have come together to sponsor the event including the Roane Wellness Coalition, AmeriCorps VISTA, HUB Community Development, and WVU Extension. Event co-organizer, Alley Snider of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department says, "We hope this event will inspire community members to focus on eating more local and fresh foods to improve their health."

Representatives from many local and state agencies and organizations, local markets, and high school students have been invited to share information at designated booths. Farmer market vendors, managers, and owners are encouraged and expected to be on hand to discuss their role in local food distribution and the need for select agriculture products at these outlets.

The focal point of this informal evening will be a group discussion lead by facilitator Leslie Stone of Stone Strategies, sponsored by HUB Community Development, about the impact of locally grown foods on the health and wellness of a community and its economy.

The facilitation session will provide a list of ways participants can use more locally grown food and/or market it to improve local health and economies, list best practices for gardening and raising animals for food, and inform the community of the existing agencies and organizations.

The goal of the event is to further cultivate an environment that supports locally grown and raised products in the area to improve our current health. There is a national trend toward the consumption of locally grown foods and we are seeing it here in West Virginia with the rise of local farmers markets, home and community gardens, and community support agriculture networks.

Calhoun and Roane Counties are very fortunate to have three local farmers market, several family-owned produce stands, two community gardens, and numerous home gardens and farms. Also, retail stores are beginning to offer larger selections of locally grown foods, providing opportunities for improved markets and health for our citizens.

AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer, and event co-organizer, Robin Wilson says, "We began a process last year at this event. This is the next step in developing a broader focus on local sustainability, not just in farming, but also in the other areas of local vitality. It is empowering when people can have access to better tasting, higher quality, connected, nutritious, and secure food."

For more information about this event, contact Alley Snider at the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department 304-927-1480 or email alley.n.snider@wv.gov

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