Land use permeates conversations in rural communities, from forestry to cattle grazing, to farming and to recreation. The livelihoods of these towns are often tied to the surrounding landscape and lands. Because the health of this land is impacted by the climate crisis, communities must act, adjust and adapt. Join Radically Rural as we introduce how people can better connect to the land for economic, social and healing benefits.

Who Should Attend: Farmers, Agricultural Service Providers, Environmental Professionals, Public Health Professionals, Planners , Students of Environment and Agriculture Programs, Community members interested in improving the agricultural economy of their region, Community members interested in improving public health and land stewardship


Rural Communities Reconnect with Nature: Implications for Health and Land Use

September 24 | 9:00 am – 10:45 am

Rural communities are surrounded by the natural world, but do residents connect with and benefit from its beauty? Current research indicates people’s wellbeing depends as much on frequent contact with nature as clean water and air. Louise Chawla, an environmental psychologist, will review these findings as she explores several questions including:  How can this research inform new ways of communicating the value of biodiverse landscapes? How can this research be applied to create healthy activities in nature for everyone, at every age, in towns?

The talk will be followed by a panel discussion on “nature prescriptions” to connect people with nature and case studies that successfully applied this research to create engaging nature programs.

Speaker: Louise Chawla, Enviromental Psychologist

Panel Discussion: Richard Christiana, Associate Professor of Public Health at Appalachian State University; Jason Urroz, Director of Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation



Crazy Good: Food Hubs? Key to Vibrant Rural Communities

September 24 | 11:00 am – 12:45 pm

Are you a busy farmer looking for innovative ways to sell your products? Or a Co-op or restaurant manager looking for local farm products? Or a mindful consumer? Food hubs to the rescue! Food hubs help small farmers with production, distribution, and marketing services, and these services increase the economic strength of rural communities.

Food hubs are growing, with more than 200 in the United States, and becoming an established sector that contributes to the vitality of a region’s economy. They support local farmers and help boost profits. Join a panel from food hub communities for an inside peek into how successful hubs operate. Leave with a vision to initiate a food hub in your region and contribute to the vibrancy of your rural community’s culture, economy, and food system.

Moderator: Ben Hewitt, Donor Relations Lead of Rural Vermont

Panel Discussion: Andre Cantelmo, Founder of Three River Farmers Alliance; Mary Macdonald, Co-Owner and Cruise Director of Genuine Local; Lauren Howard of Kearsarge Food Hub; Richard Berkfield of Food Connects



Fiber: Building a Regional Fibershed in this New Frontier

September 24 | 2:00 pm – 3:45 pm

Do you promote a locavore lifestyle in your rural community? Have you thought about the next step of growing, producing and composting local textiles? Our prospective speaker, Rebecca Burgess is working on just these goals in her northern California community and wants others to build Fibersheds too.

Fiber offers a new frontier for localizing efforts that can have powerful economic, environmental and social impacts. Soil-to-soil fiber systems can play a vital role in generating lasting prosperity with positive effects on regional economies, global climate and the health and diversity of our ecosystems. Imagine a community built around producing, creating, marketing and selling quality – rather than quantity – clothing. These community ties build resilience. Come and be inspired. Leave with tools to reimagine your community and its connection with clothes.

Speaker: Rebecca Burgess, Executive Director of Fibershed

Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship Key Partners

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