"I am from the government and I'm here to help," is what Parker said he tells the farmers he visits.
Parker, under the county's Planning and Code Enforcement Division, is helping create a food hub with 200 farmers within a 100-mile radius.
"Some of our biggest activities [as county planners] are economics and jobs," Parker said. "Farming has a huge impact in different sectors."
Parker said he hopes Greenville not only will have local institutions, such as schools and hospitals, purchasing local farm products but that they also will export local products in the future.
"If you have fresh produce growing in your back yard, that's a beautiful thing," Parker said.
He added that Greenville actually re-zoned to allow for more agricultural activity.
In Athens, Ohio, Leslie Schaller has spent the past 20 years developing a local farm-to-table-market.
"I think we can all get excited," Schaller said, "even if we're just eaters of local food."
Schaller echoed the challenge of finding capital but emphasized learning and collaboration among regional farmers.
"It's really the entrepreneurs making our economy work," she said.
Working with the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, Schaller said Athens enjoys a $1.5 million shared-food-venture center. More than 300 businesses are incubated there, using resources such as kitchen space and a thermal processing room for bottled products.
Schaller said businesses are exporting products to six countries and that more and more products are emerging.
"How do we create rural wealth that sticks?" Schaller asked. "It's really about creating a sustainable livelihood."
Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.