CAN Member Organizations

Appalachian Center for Economic Networks

Appalachian Sustainable Development

Coalfield Development Corporation

Community Farm Alliance

Mountain Association for Community Economic Development

Natural Capital Investment Fund, Inc.

Rural Action

Get Adobe Flash player

Resources and Publications

The Central Appalachian Network (CAN) is a network of practitioners working in sustainable sectors in the Central Appalachian region. Over the years, our members have tested and identified many best practices through their work, and we are committed to sharing these practices and lessons learned with other working in the region. Below, you'll find a list of CAN publications and toolkits.

In addition, CAN hosts a series of online learning opportunities for our members and partners. To view recordings of previous webinars, or download presentation materials, please visit our Webinar Archives.

And finally, when CAN hosts or sponsors an event, gathering, or conversation among those interested in issues related to sustainable economic development in the region, we often develop a proceedings paper to share these conversations with other. To download papers from our recent events, please visit the Events and Proceedings page.


Forest Farming & Agroforestry in Central Appalachia

This Food & Ag Systems Working Group learning call, hosted by CAN and the Appalachia Funders Network, featured a collection ofWebinar leading practitioners and funders who workon agroforestry andforest farming around the region. They shared key conceptsanddefinitions, highlighted current projects taking place acrossthe region, and emphasized the economic potential, environmental impact, and cultural significance of this sector for Appalachia's communities and rural landowners. To download a pdf of the slides from the webinar presentation, click here.

CAN Hosts Farm Bill Learning Call with NSAC

CAN members, practitioner partners, and Appalachia Funders Network members of the Food &Ag Systems Working Group Farm Bill Webinar(FASWG) were joined by policy experts from the National SustainableAgriculture Coalition (NSAC). NSAC staff shared an overviewof the Farm Bill process,identified critical USDA programs that are fundedthrough the bill, and laid out opportunities to getinvolved in advocating for a 2018 Farm Bill that supports local food systems, food access, ruralbusinesses, and farmland conservation. This is a great starting point for anyone curious about the Farm Bill and federal Ag policy.To download a pdf of the slides from the webinar presentation, click here.

Regional Food Security Data Scan

Authored by the Appalachian Foodshed Project for CAN and the Food & Ag Systems Working Group of the Appalachia Funders Network, this report provides state-level data snapshots related to food, agriculture, poverty, and health of the Central Appalachian region and suggests approaches to creating and utilizing data as a means of understanding and addressing food, health, and quality of life issues in Appalachia. Statistically, Central Appalachia shows up as moderately worse off than the rest of the country in various categories of food security. However, meaningful data for rural areas is limited and inconsistent, making it difficult to draw concrete conclusions about our communities and region. On the plus side, the existence of robust and emerging local food systems offers a powerful asset in combating food insecurity and poor nutritional health in the region. Click here to download a PDF of the report.

The Vital Role of Food Systems in Central Appalachia's Public Health

Central Appalachia’s public health disparities are staggering compared with the rest of the country. However, this data-driven analysis and video presentation by Dr. Randy Wykoff, Dean of the ETSU College of Public Health shows that there is great potential to impact the major health factors of social determinants and behavior. Education outcomes, public health, and economic opportunities influence each other deeply, and this means actors in each area need to work together. As Dr. Wyckoff points out, local food systems offer a strategic entry point to address all of these factors simultaneously.

CAN Tank 2014 Briefing Paper: "Cross-Sector Collaboration in the Small Business Support Ecosystem"

In December 2014, CAN partnered with the WV Alliance for Economic Inclusion to host aSmall Business Trainers Workshop in Charleston, WV. Building on a series of learning calls between entrepreneurship support actors, this 1-day strategy session brought together banks, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), non-profit organizations, business incubators, community groups, investors, USDA, US Small Business Administration, development districts, and Community Development Finance Institutions from across the region. The major takeaway from the event was the need and opportunity for more cross-sector collaboration and better coordination of the small business support services and resources available across Central Appalachia. You can read more about the insights, challenges, and promising opportunities for collaboration across the region's entrepreneurial ecosystem in this 3-page briefing paper. Please download and share!

Research Report: "Improving Systems of Distribution and Logistics for Regional Food Hubs"

Food hubs are increasingly popular as a means of bridging the gap between small and medium-sized farms and mainstream markets. Hubs located in rural areas, however, face numerous challenges when it comes to logistics and distribution. This report, prepared for CAN by MIT, summarizes existing research on food hubs, profiles several national case studies, and provides a set of findings and recommendations related to food hub development in Appalachia. You can download the report here.


CAN Tank 2013 Briefing Paper: "Expanding Market Access for Rural Enterprises"

Through CAN’s work with rural entrepreneurs and value chains, we’ve recognized the importance of market access for developing rural-based economic sectors. We made this issue the focus of our 2013 CAN Tank research project and gathering, described below.

Following the CAN Tank gathering, we distilled the experience and analysis of over 50 of Appalachia’s leading development practitioners down to a set of concrete strategies. Click here for the 3-page briefing paper on strategies for Expanding Market Access for Rural Enterprises. We hope it can inform your work to build sustainable rural economies in Appalachia!


Red Mantra Convening Report: “Building a Thriving Regional Agricultural Economy in the Rural South and Central Appalachia”

In August 2013, the Red Mantra Group brought CAN members and other local food system developers and supporters together with a diverse group of corporate buyer representative. Executives from Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Kroger, Nestle, CH Robinson, Harris Teeter, and others sat down to discuss the obstacles to a thriving regional food economy, particularly the challenges of financing, logistics, and farmer readiness. A proceedings report summarizes those discussions and provides some key findings and recommendations. Click here to download the summary report.


Report on Appalachia's Rural-Urban Continuum and Strategies for Expanding Market Access

In August of 2013, CAN hosted a "CAN Tank" event which brought together regional economic development leaders to address the challenge of expanding market access for rural-based enterprises and economic sectors. In preparation for this event, CAN partnered with Brian Dabson of the University of Missouri's Institute of Public Policy to conduct research on the rural-urban continuum and its implications for sustainable development work in Appalachia.

Dabson's report provides a thorough review of the literature on the rural-urban continuum, and exploration of rural-urban economic connections in and around Appalachia, and recommendations for increasing these rural-urban connections. Click here to access the full report. You can also access an overview of Dabson's findings and his "Seven Steps" recommendations by clicking here. See the briefing paper from the event above.

Branding Study for Appalachian Food Economies

CAN partnered with the MIT Keeping Wealth Local Clinic to produce this exciting report on place-based branding strategies for food systems. The report includes an overview of branding theory, a series of case studies of place-based food brands from within Central Appalachian and outside of the region, and an analysis of lessons learned and recommendations for those interested in branding local and regional food products. Download the paper here.

For an Executive Summary of the study, follow this link: CAN MIT Branding Study Executive Summary.

Chesterhill Produce Auction

Rural Action and the Voinovich School at Ohio University chronicle the story of the Chesterhill Produce Auction in this case study. Tom Redfern from Rural Action explains the produce auction is part of a larger sustainable agriculture picture. “It keeps the farmer on the land; it keeps local people working; it keeps the water and the soil healthy and gives people who live in that community options and control over their food and food system in its entirety.” Read the story here.

YouTube: Ohio University Committed to
Supporting the Local Economy

YouTube: Chesterhill Produce Auction

Healthy Food Systems: A Toolkit for Building Value Chains

In this toolkit, ASD shares experiences and lessons from Appalachian Harvest and other value chain initiatives. It’s designed to help new and emerging value chain efforts and includes ideas, challenges and insights from initiatives in Appalachian and around the country. View the toolkit here.

Strategies for Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is a vital part of the economic revitalization of the Appalachian region. In this publication, CAN offers examples of sustainable enterprises across the region, discusses the policies and investments needed to support entreprises like these, and explores the importance of networks and regional catalysts in advancing a culture of sustainable entrepreneurship. Download the paper here.