Community Engagement in Place-Based Social and Economic Development: A Case Study of The Wild Ramp Local Food Market

Hannah James

Abstract


In 2012, local food activists in Huntington, West Virginia created The Wild Ramp: a non-profit local food market to serve the dietary needs of the community’s low-income and low-access citizens, as well as the economic needs of area farmers and other working populations. What began as a senior project by a group of Marshall University students became a social movement toward sustainable economic development within this Appalachian community. The Wild Ramp provides a strong case for the power of grassroots activism and utilization of social capital in place-based economic development and community empowerment. The process was the work of a small-scale social movement from within Huntington, but intertwined with the growing local movement across the United States and the world. By exploring the sociological and economic forces embedded in The Wild Ramp’s formation, and by collecting survey and interview data from community members, this research examines the ways that community values fostered the development of a local food market and the ways in which the community has gained social capital and empowerment from these efforts. Results from this research explaining the dynamics of social change may be beneficial to communities seeking place-based economic development strategies.


Keywords


Community engagement; Local food; Economic development

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