Highland Center Executive Director Tickled To See Ag Center Finally Opened
Monterey, VA – Betty Mitchell, Executive Director of the Highland Center, has been a primary driving force behind the efforts to make the Alleghany Highlands Agricultural Center a reality. Her determination and ability to bring federal, state and local resources together resulted in an unprecedented partnership of agencies, farmers and investors from four counties and two states. At the open house earlier this month, Betty pointed out some of the many participants in this long process.
“We have had lots of partners through the years and we’ve been blessed to have many community members who fervently believe that this project could make a difference to our ag community,” says Mitchell. ”
She notes how important the US Department of Agriculture and the Highland Center Board were in getting the project started.
“The earliest partner we had with this was the USDA,” she says. “Kent and I have had many a phone conversation and email through the years; we really appreciate all you’ve done with the value added producer grant to Mad Maggie farm that got this thing kicked off. Little did we know when we worked with Mad Maggie in 2004 the incredible man hours that would be put in by everybody. The Highland Center board has believed in this project from the get go.”
The Highland Center Board was instrumental in keeping the momentum going as the difficult work of raising money and finalizing plans was completed. Two more state organizations played important roles in the project.
“Thanks to the Virginia Dept of Housing and Community Development and the Appalachian Regional Commission; they provided funding for a feasibility study to help make this a possibility,” she says. “From that study a site was identified and you’re on it right now.”
Finally, Betty thanks local entrepreneurs Jim and Celia Rutt for their key roles in the success of this project
“And thanks to Proteus Foundation for taking us from being an idea about this and giving us the ability to purchase this land,” says Mitchell. “Jim and Celia, we really appreciate all you’ve done.”
The Alleghany Highlands Agricultural Center opened its doors in early April and will operate under the name Alleghany Meats. They have begun processing local grass fed livestock into meat products.