If you are involved in a nature-related business or organization, you may list it in a comprehensive new regional directory to be released this spring. Listing in the directory is free, and the directory will be available to the public online and in print at no cost.
The directory is being produced by Allegheny Mountain Naturally, a program of the Appalachian Center for Ethnobotanical Studies (ACES) and the Center for Regional Progress (CRP), both programs of Frostburg State University.
“The idea is to make people aware of the vast scope of area businesses that in some way relate to nature,” says ACES coordinator Mimi Hernandez. “These include farmers and other food producers, wildcrafters, artisans, retailers, outfitters, landscapers and so on. We also want to include supporting enterprises. Specialized business services and related nonprofit organizations come to mind here.”
“We want to make the directory a hub for the nature-related economy,” says Dr. Peggy Dalton, CRP director. As an economist, Dalton understands the value of a vibrant marketplace for nature-related goods and services, especially in a mostly rural region. “Our area is predominantly forests and farms, and so long as we do it with care for the environment, we need to make the most of them. What’s been missing so far is coherence in the way these businesses interact with the public and even among themselves. Creating a directory of all the players is the first step in promoting greater awareness and ultimately a more successful economy.”
Nature-related economies are not confined by county and state borders, Dalton says. “A holistic view of the regional economy here should include south-central Pennsylvania, Western Maryland and north-central West Virginia. To varying degrees, businesses and consumers in this region are interdependent. The more we recognize and nurture that, the better off we’ll all be.”
This trade zone lies at the heart of a geographical feature called the Allegheny Mountains, hence the name Allegheny Mountain Naturally. “It just seemed right to name our effort in a way that reflects the natural landscape,” explains Hernandez.
Dr. Dan Fiscus, an assistant professor of biology at FSU, supervises the Allegheny Mountain Naturally program. “The directory is just the first step in providing support to the nature-related marketplace. We intend to follow with initiatives in education, outreach, organizational support and grant writing to make a real impact on economic and environmental conditions in the region.”
“I am very pleased that this kind of comprehensive directory is being created,” says Sam White, co-owner of Cedar Rock Farm in Mt. Savage. Cedar Rock produces grass-fed beef and organic produce. “It could be a big help in letting people know what we offer. More than that, a regional directory would tie the community together.”
To help compile the directory and develop the Allegheny Mountain Naturally program, directory applicants are asked to fill out a short survey questionnaire, available online at www.amnaturally.com or call Mimi Hernandez at 301-687-3136 to request a hard copy.
Allegheny Mountain Naturally is supported by a University Center partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University.
Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit www.frostburg.edu or facebook.com/frostburgstateuniversity.