medicine in Williamson, the peoples’ idea of a restaurant was fast food. In patients, I’ve always been able to stress,
that you know, you need to be eating healthy foods, fresh vegetables, those things. So what happened is is that there wasn’t
a lot of access. Maria Arnot: Mingo County is rated lowest
on many of the health ranking lists. So high obesity rates. High unemployment rates. It’s a mining community. Where we live many people are unemployed and
looking for work, and so we have been trying to promote economic diversification through
agriculture. Dino Beckett:
It’s really easy to identify, you know, what are health indicators, what are things
that we need to look at like blood pressure, diabetes, those things. But our idea really looked at, a holistic
approach to community development. So the first thing that we decided to do was
to create a farmers market to help create access to fresh foods and vegetables. [train rolling by] One of the ideas that we
had was to start a community garden. [Lonnie Bowen: OK, pick those banana peppers] Maria Arnot: This space is maintained by a
grower, Lonnie Bowen, and he grows beautiful tomatoes, as you can see, and he sells them
to a local restaurant. We also work with a Growing Warriors veteran
program down here, which is a vets to ag program. Joshua Rhodes: A year ago I was working in
the mines and I got laid off. I would’ve never believed I’d be growing vegetables
and getting paid. Maria Arnot: There’s really been a huge
buildup of momentum around local food projects, because I think the community is finally seeing
the value in growing food and eating healthy. Dino Beckett: Our goal from the beginning
has been to help revitalize the downtown area. So what we’ve been able to do is locate
many of our programs within the downtown area. We have the health center, which is Williamson
Health and Wellness. It has these far-reaching tentacles that are
all throughout the community, and whether it be the farmers market, the community garden,
the mobile market, or the active living component. As we saw the decline of local restaurants,
local eateries go down, and we saw more chain restaurants moving in, the need to have more
people having healthier options was something that we wanted to address. Debbie Young: It took me a long time to get
people around here to eat salads. Now, I probably sell more salads than I do
anything. A lot of my produce — especially in the spring
when it’s available — we try to use the farmer’s market. Lonnie Bowen: It’s been a good collaboration
with Debbie because she’s really artistic with the way she presents her food and 34:Ate’s
a real shining example of what entrepreneurship can do for a community. Maria Arnot: One of the missions of the Wellness
Center is to promote healthy eating, to increase access to healthy foods to low-income populations
and so they serve as really this anchor institution. Dino Beckett: What local foods and local places
means to us is that, you know, we have all these amenities in a downtown area and we
want to keep that active and keep it vibrant. So being able to have everything nearby and
to have people participating in that – restaurants, farmers … It’s very important to holding
onto, you know, these smaller towns in rural America. This is what they were built on. [Music]