Cherishing and sharing our region's cultural, culinary and agricultural history, and connecting its foodways heritage with the next generation of Appalachians.
The Appalachian Food Summit is a community of writers, scholars, advocates, restaurateurs, farmers, producers, chefs and mountain foodways enthusiasts gathered around the table with a shared mission to honor the past, celebrate the present and support a sustainable future for Appalachia, its food and its people.
Think of the Summit as a “kitchen table” for Appalachian foodways stakeholders, where everyone is invited to pull up a chair for a diverse, inclusive, and multi-sector conversation. While we can define some of our roles, AFS also has some cross-cutting functions that underpin everything we do – they’re part of our DNA as a group.
- We are conveners: Bringing people together, whether physically or remotely, is the foundation for how we work.
- We are communicators: How, when, where, why, and to whom we talk about the region’s foodways matters a great deal, and guides our work.
- We are connectors: Different groups approach foodways from different perspectives, and we aim to get people out of their professional or geographical silos and make connections that are mutually beneficial.
- We are community-builders: Foodways are fundamental to our region’s identity, economy, and history, and we strive to continuously foster community around and through them.
AFS emerged organically out of a series of in-person and online conversations among Appalachian foodways enthusiasts. We first convened in person in Greensboro, NC, and surveyed a broad group of stakeholders to gauge interest in an annual Summit. We are currently hosted by Berea College, with Grow Appalachia as our fiscal sponsorship.
Since our inception in 2013, we’ve hosted an Annual Summit each year in the following locations: Hindman Settlement School (KY), Heartwood (VA), and Berea College (KY). These Summits are a celebration of Appalachian foodways, blending academic, economic, and culinary content, and culminating in a community-building supper.
We are a membership-based, movement-building organization. Our board of directors is made up of a group of Appalachian foodways stakeholders, including chefs, writers, activists, food and farm entrepreneurs, and economic development professionals. Four years into this work, AFS saw the need in 2016 to take a step back and clarify our strategies and structure as an organization. We contracted Rural Support Partners, a strategic management firm with a strong understanding of Appalachian food systems, to guide us through a strategic retreat process.
Following the 2016 Summit, we asked AFS members to contribute their strategic input and feedback on the organization’s work and value. We held a board retreat in Western North Carolina in January 2017 to assess our work, re-focus our strategies, and set direction for our organizational development.
The Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky serves as the fiscal agent of the Appalachian Food Summit.