Restoring Appalachia

Read the full story at Orion.

To Jude—and, it is hoped, to hundreds of other displaced former West Virginia coal miners working distressed former mining lands—tending lavender, and raspberries, and even commercial-scale honeybees offers a glimpse of a future that is both economically viable and ecologically sustainable. Jude is one of the first of nearly four dozen West Virginians to go through a program called Refresh Appalachia, one node in a network of nonprofit enterprises devoted to rehabilitating a region that has suffered a hundred years of economic and ecological distress. Funding for the projects comes from an assortment of federal, state, and philanthropic sources—and notably from the Appalachian Regional Commission, which has committed some $94 million in grants to help rebuild coal-impacted communities in 250 counties across the region. Another $3.6 million has come from federal money distributed through the West Virginia Office of Abandoned Mined Lands, which is also funding the state National Guard’s planting of 100,000 Golden Delicious apple trees in Clay County, where one variety of the apple was discovered.

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