The Work of the Central Appalachian Network (CAN)
CAN member organizations approach sustainable economic development through a variety of sectors, including energy, forestry, food systems, waste and recycling, health, social enterprise, entrepreneurship, and green business development. CAN recognizes the importance of all of these sectors, and believes that the collective impact of a network can create powerful changes by focusing on one or more sectors at a time.
CAN is currently exploring new ways of working that connect and strengthen sustainable development actors around the region to build shared analysis and strategies. To this end, CAN will support sector or issue-focused working groups and learning groups that bring in regional partners and supporters to take part in shared learning and strategizing, with the possibility of deeper work.
In recent years, CAN has focused our collective efforts on working to support the development of local food economies. Thriving local food economies can support the development of diversified and resilient economic bases, increase local control of wealth, empower local individuals and communities, increase self-sufficiency and decrease dependence on government benefits, and help to protect natural resources such as soil, water, and air quality.
Local Food Value Chains
CAN works to develop and strengthen local food value chains, which we define as supply chains infused with the triple bottom line values of promoting financial, social, and environmental goals. Local food value chains include producers, processors, aggregators, distributors, farmers markets, wholesale buyers, consumers, and a wide variety of important supporters. In five sub-regions throughout Central Appalachia, CAN works to develop infrastructure, make connections, and build capacity to increase the profitability and sustainability of these value chains.
CAN's member organizations, and many of our partners, act as “intermediaries” in these chains. Intermediaries:
- Connect producers to markets
- Provide and distribute educational materials
- Create and promote marketing and training tools
- Coordinate policy work
- Facilitate collaboration among value chain participants
- Some intermediary organizations also play additional roles in the value chain
In addition, CAN itself provides small grants, technical assistance, training, and planning and assessment support to partner organizations and local farm and food businesses.
As a group of intermediaries, CAN has a unique viewpoint, enabling us to comprehend and coordinate local foods work at a systems level, across political and cultural boundaries, while also providing support to individuals and organizations “on the ground.”
What does a value chain look like? Download our value chain "map" here.
For more information about the sub-regions in which CAN's work is currently focused, please explore the "Our Region" tab at the top of this page.
For more information about CAN's Small Grants Program, please visit the Small Grants page here.