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Sowing a Regenerative System, Growing a Resilient Appalachia and Rural Southeast

We are passionate about regenerating and conserving Central/Southern Appalachia and the rural Southeast through our commitment to supporting resilient regional production and manufacturing in food, fiber and forest products.

Our History: We Are Closing Agriculture’s Equity Gap

Accelerating Appalachia was founded to help regional agriculture-based businesses and small farms access resources and expand opportunities in the growing market for climate-smart, regenerative commodities. Small-medium scale businesses and farms often lack access to resources available to larger businesses. Accelerating Appalachia was created to close that gap.

In 2013, Accelerating Appalachia developed the world’s first accelerator program focused on regenerative agriculture. It was also the first to prioritize underserved farmers and commodity businesses. The accelerator helped underserved seed-stage businesses and producers of food, fibers and forest products by providing training in regenerative agriculture and connections with investors and peer businesses.

The accelerator’s launch was met with an overwhelming response. The first session received over 100 applications from around the world, with an inaugural session of eleven businesses. 10 years later, accelerator graduates have collectively leveraged over $20.2 million in investments.

We continue this mission with Building Soil, Building Equity (BSBE) that has an $18 million Farmer Fund with $12 million in cash incentives and $6 million in training and marketing assistance. BSBE will train and incentivize farmers and producers to adopt CSAF practices.


With funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Founding Director SaraDay Evans formed Accelerating Appalachia to develop a business accelerator focused on regenerative agriculture.


Accelerating Appalachia launched the world’s first regenerative agriculture-based business accelerator and Central/Southern Appalachia’s first social impact accelerator supported by a regenerative agriculture-focused investor network.


Expanded network of farmers and agriculture businesses across Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. Seed funding from impact investor, activist, philanthropist, Sallie Calhoun allowed Accelerating Appalachia to significantly increase impact across the region.


Partnered with Walnut Grove Farms, Woodford Reserve, and RiverBend Malthouse to facilitate the development of the first all-Kentucky-sourced distiller’s malt. Accepted a fellowship to Common Future, a California-based organization supporting community-driven solutions to advance racial and economic equity.


Partnered with Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC to train and connect sustainable agriculture business students and entrepreneurs.


Partnered with Brown-Forman, one of the world’s largest spirits and wine companies in the spirits and wine business, to host accelerator participants at their headquarters in Louisville, KY.


Partnered with Lush Cosmetics, a global personal care brand, to connect the company with the Appalachian regional network of botanical growers.


Received first Patagonia Award, beginning an ongoing funding partnership with awards totaling over $100,000. Accepted a fellowship with Echoing Green, a global organization supporting innovative social impact leadership.


In response to COVID-19 pandemic, restructured programming to provide consultations with individuals and farmers.


Launched Building Soil, Building Equity, a innovative program to incentivize farmers to adopt climate-smart, regenerative agriculture practices across eight states in Central/Southern Appalachia and the rural Southeast.

Our Team: We Are Accelerating Appalachia

Our Building Soil, Building Equity Team

Portrait of Meredith Leigh.

Meredith Leigh

Carbon Harvest

Portrait of Laura Lengnick.

Laura Lengnick

Carbon Harvest

Portrait of Geof Rochester.

Geof Rochester

GRC Advising

Portrait of Brie Lowry Cox.

Brie Lowry Cox

GRC Advising

Portrait of Dr. Shawn Lucas.

Dr. Shawn Lucas

Kentucky State University

Portrait of Brad Clark.

Brad Clark

Latent Talent Accelerator

Portrait of Tyler Jenkins.

Tyler Jenkins

National Center for Appropriate Technology

Portrait of Fred Bahnson.

Fred Bahnson

National Center for Appropriate Technology

Portrait of Virginia Kashdan.

Virginia Kashdan

National Center for Appropriate Technology

Portrait of Leif Gonzales-Kramer.

Leif Gonzales-Kramer

Working Trees

Portrait of Aakash Ahamed.

Aakash Ahamed

Working Trees

Portrait of John Foye.

John Foye

Working Trees

Advisory Team

Portrait of Chris Kummer.

Chris Kummer


Heartland Chia

Portrait of Alvina Maynard.

Alvina Maynard


River Hill Ranch

Portrait of Jane Harrod.

Jane Harrod


Early-Synder Family Farm

Portrait of Wendell Berry.

Wendell Berry

Author and Small Farming Advocate

Portrait of Desiree Adaway.

Desiree Adaway

Founder and Principal

The Adaway Group

Portrait of Antoinette Carroll.

Antoinette Carroll

Founder, President, CEO

Creative Reaction Lab

Portrait of Joe Schmidt.

Joe Schmidt


Portrait of Tom Lotrecchiano.

Tom Lotrecchiano


Portrait of Andrea Armeni.

Andrea Armeni

Transform Finance

Portrait of Darrell Glasgow.

Darrell Glasgow

Social Mission Architects

Portrait of Soody Tronson.

Soody Tronson

Soody Tronson Law Group

Portrait of Justin Belleme.

Justin Belleme

JB Media

Portrait of Shaun Paul.

Shaun Paul

Ejido Verde

Portrait of David McConville.

David McConville

Co-founder and Resident Cosmographer


Portrait of Pam Lewis.

Pam Lewis

Appalachian EB5

Portrait of Michael Whelchel.

Michael Whelchel

Co-Founder & Partner

Watershed Capital

Portrait of Richard Piggosi.

Richard Piggosi

Founder & Chairman

Pegasus Capital

Portrait of Tim Guthrie.

Tim Guthrie

Founder, OnTrack Management Group

Co-Founder Basehere Holdings

Portrait of Jim Roberts.

Jim Roberts

Founder, Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington

Founder, WALE Angel Network

Portrait of Joshua Humphreys.

Joshua Humphreys


Croatan Institute

Portrait of Sallie Calhoun.

Sallie Calhoun

Paicines Ranch

Portrait of Esther Park.

Esther Park

Cienega Capital