The Food Principle on PBS episode 4, titled “Roots Rising,” highlights the inspiring work of West Virginia farmer and visionary Jason Tartt, Sr. The founder of A ppalachian Gold, a brand that unites regional farmers by producing 100% Appalachian food products, Tartt is a champion of community-building and stewardship of the land. The episode explores the power of food to connect communities and heal century-old scars while helping Appalachia rebuild and recover.
We know Appalachia is a region in the eastern United States that has long been known for its breathtaking beauty and rich culture. Still, we face our fair share of challenges, including economic decline and biodiversity loss. However, Jason Tartt, a small farmer in McDowell County, West Virginia, is working to change that narrative by using food as a catalyst for community building and economic development. Read More about Jason Tartt, Sr. on BBG:
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For Tartt, returning to his childhood home in McDowell County was a chance to reconnect with his roots and help grow the local economy. He believes that Appalachia has a wealth of natural resources that need to be fully utilized, including medicinal herbs, fruit trees, and nut trees that grow naturally in the region. By returning to the farming practices of his ancestors and working with nature instead of against it, Tartt hopes to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future for the region.
In addition to promoting sustainable farming practices, Tartt is passionate about bringing African Americans back to Appalachia and highlighting their contributions to the region. He believes that the history of black Appalachians has mainly been overlooked and underappreciated. By attracting more people of color to the region, Appalachia can become a more diverse and inclusive community.
“We’re sitting on a goldmine here, and no one’s talking about it,” Tartt says. “No one’s bringing awareness to what we have here. And it’s time for that to stop.”
One way that Tartt is bringing awareness to Appalachia’s hidden potential is through the Appalachian Gold brand, which showcases Appalachian ingredients and features Mama’s meat sauce, a generations-old family recipe that has become a source of pride for the camp community. Tartt hopes that the success of Appalachian Gold will inspire other farmers in the region to get involved in multiple links of the value chain and create their products using the abundance of their land.
Tartt says. “The next ten years, we’re gonna put this place back on the map.”
Tartt’s vision for Appalachia is one of community, sustainability, and inclusivity. He believes that by returning to the farming practices of his ancestors and promoting local food entrepreneurship, Appalachia can become a model for the rest of the country. And with his passion for the region and commitment to its future, Tatt is leading the charge to revitalize Appalachia’s economy and preserve its natural beauty for generations to come.
WATCH: The Food Principle on PBS episode 4 “Roots Rising” featuring Jason Tartt, Sr, McDowell County Farmer.