Appalachia Proud

You know when you hear an idea that is so simple -- so brilliant -- that you can't believe somebody didn't think of it before now?

Here on HerKentucky, I've shared many stories of growing up in Appalachia. As I look back over so many essays and blog posts I've written about my Eastern Kentucky childhood, I realize that two themes have surfaced time and again: the need for a diversified economic base in Eastern Kentucky's Appalachian region and the delightful fresh-from-the-farm food that we love back home.

Sunflowers from my aunt's Floyd County garden.
I'm certainly not the only person who's noticed those two facts. But, like the old Reece's Cup commercial said, somebody finally put those two great tastes together. Yesterday, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer announced a new marketing initiative called Appalachia Proud: Mountains of Potential. An offshoot of the Kentucky Proud brand, Appalachia Proud will connect the dots between the area's economic needs and its amazing agricultural potential.

I am so excited to see Appalachia Proud branding on local products in and around my hometown. I can certainly attest that the best tomatoes and beans in the world are grown in Floyd County, Kentucky. I can't wait to see how these and other local products are showcased by the Appalachia Proud branding. It's been so amazing to watch the Kentucky Proud incentive transform the way food is served across the Commonwealth.  I always enjoy finding new ways to try Kentucky Proud products -- my favorite Vietnamese restaurant here in Louisville serves Pho with locally-sourced beef -- and I can't wait to see how products from the Eastern Kentucky mountains find hip new incarnations!
Tiny tomatoes in my mother's garden.
I am so impressed by the Appalachia Proud initiative. It's far more than just a brand to stick on locally-sourced products. It's a well-designed plan to effectuate real economic change in the mountains. It's a sustainable project that seeks to train a new generation of farmers and provide a long-term impact on a fragile economy. Here's hoping it blossoms!