But to get to that point, Jones said, the conversation between lawmakers and farmers needs to open up.
"That has been the biggest challenge for those of us producing food for people in West Virginia. It's finding people that are willing to sit down with economic development and seriously listen and help us construct that bridge [between farmer and consumer] so this can happen," Jones said.
In terms of cattle farming, Jones said as much as she would like to keep her money in the state, she can't until the proper infrastructure, including small, "boutique" slaughterhouses are opened.
"We have no infrastructure in this state to support a business that really wants to grow. We have to have slaughter, we have to have processing and we have to have help. Right now in this valley alone, about half of the meat ... is being processed out of state because the state can't handle it," she said.
In addition to better using the landscape for grazing, the study points out that high tunnels -- unheated greenhouses offering protection to plants without using fossil fuels to heat the inside -- could allow farmers could grow berries and other crops during the off seasons.
High tunnels "offer enough protection that you can facilitate growing strawberries in November," said Jill Grace Young of the group Greenbrier Valley Local Foods, which commissioned the study along with the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corp.
"You can keep your crops protected from both summer and winter conditions which allows you to produce more, produce a better product and a more consistent product to take to market," Young said. "You can grow any type of crop that you want to protect from the elements."
Before the study was commissioned, the Greenbrier economic development group was already working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand the use of high tunnels in the region.
"We are in the growing phase where more and more are coming into the Greenbrier Valley for all kinds of production," Young said. "They have been around for years but we have a better understanding of them now and a better way to utilize them to meet market demand."
Farmers markets are increasing in popularity across the state -- including the Monroe County Farmers Market, a collective of more than 25 farms that ships its produce to Charleston -- but not where they could be, Young said.
"There is a lot of demand," Jones acknowledges, but "we could grow a lot more food if our growers had more security that that food would be sold."
If residents purchased just half of their fruit and vegetables from local farms instead of shipping goods in from out of state, it would keep more than $6 million in the region, according to the study.
Even though change could be slow, Jones thinks area farmers will be incredibly receptive to changes that could net them a market, and cash.
"I've seen a huge change just in this valley in the past 10 years and I don't think people are averse to that at all. Again, economics really drive it. This valley used to be full of corn grown for cattle and you just don't see that anymore," Jones said.
"We have the labor force. We have the land. And we have the people really willing to do it."
Reach Kathryn Gregory at kathr...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.