Funded through the USDA's Agriculture, Food and Research Initiative (AFRI) grants program. Award Number: 2011-68004-30079

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Practitioner Profiles: Stories of Community Food Work

Stories of Community Food Work in Appalachia: Opening Space for Storytelling and Learning

In spring 2013, the AFP launched an initiative to collect, create, and share stories of activists, educators, farmers, and community professionals in our region.  These stories express the diverse experiences of people working for food systems change, and include the voices of practitioners from across western North Carolina, southwest Virginia, and West Virginia.

The stories include exciting projects, such as the creation of a CSA-food pantry partnership, the evolution of new thought, the development of novel structures for organizing, the establishment of new food hubs, and the impact of school and community gardens. These narratives are a personal testament to the triumphs and challenges of community food work in the region. They are meant to be spaces for learning for all who read them, and the extent of their use and meaning go as far as our imaginations can take them. They also generate opportunities for us to narrate our own stories of community food work. Community food work is a collective journey, and these narratives can further bind the region and the work together. We invite you to spend some time engaging with these stories of possibility, hope and transformation.  (Check out our recent blog post on the narratives.)

The stories are available on the Stories of Community Food Work website.  For more information, please contact:  Kim Niewolny at or 540-231-5784.

You can also view an archived webinar on the narratives, Stories of Community Food Work in Appalachia:  Possibilities for Hope and Transformation (Kim Niewolny, Virginia Tech, March 2016). 

ApproachStudents from the AFP pilot graduate course, Food Security & Resilient Communities: Food Systems Theory & Praxis, at Virginia Tech completed the first round of interviews using narrative inquiry and a “Practitioner Profile” framework.  The transcripts were then used to create narratives, which were co-edited by the practitioners themselves.  Becca Ligrani, a graduate assistant working with the AFP, also worked to collect, transcribe, and edit narratives. A third round of narratives were completed with students from the spring 2015 AFP graduate course.   To learn more about our methodology, please visit our site.