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MCRA Pushing Agriculture

WILLIAMSON – The Mingo County Redevelopment Authority’s Refresh Appalachia project continues to gain momentum and 10 acres of farm land has been cultivated on a former surface mine reclamation site.

MCRA Director Leasha Johnson said 10 acres has been “ripped”, or plowed, at the site located near the Wood Industrial Park at 22 Mine Road at Holden.

Ripping is similar to cultivating, only more aggressive.

“The autumn olives that are planted during surface mine reclamation are very aggressive plants that are hard to mitigate by hand, so the ripping was conducted with a forest mulcher in order to clear the 10 acre site in a shorter period of time,” Johnson stated. “Cover crops are currently being sown over the 10 acres for the winter season, and in the spring, we’ll use a deep ripper to de-compact the soil and plant an orchard.”

The orchard will consist mostly of apple trees and possibly grapes.

Johnson said that a grant was received and that some of those funds will be used to build a structure at the agriculture site to store equipment and to allow workers to get out of the elements when weather is bad. They will also construct some green houses to raise crops in those structures.

Savanna Lyons was recently hired as the new Food Hub Coordinator for the local project.

“She has hit the ground running,” Johnson said of Lyons. “She has already been identifying markets.”

The MCRA also announced that the Williamson Farmers’ Market organization is in the process of purchasing the old American Legion building on Second Avenue in downtown Williamson. If this plan goes through, it will eventually be turned into an indoor daily farmers’ market and a community kitchen. There may even be crops grown on top of the roof.

“It’s intended to become an indoor farmers’ market, community kitchen and food distribution hub. It will be purchased by the Williamson Health and Wellness Center, which is one of our Refresh Appalachia partners,” Johnson added.

Third District Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-WV) is interested in the agriculture projects and the diversity and jobs it could bring to the area’s economy. Johnson said he plans to come in and hold a meeting about the future of the Mingo County project.

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