Another Industry Moves into Appalachia, Hemp Farmers in Ky. & N.C., Remembering Our Veterans


This week, we’ll hear from farmer Peg Taylor,  who’s excited that Hemp is being grown in Kentucky for the first time in four decades. But some farmers in West Virginia, like Bill Gorby, say they’re concerned about what hydraulic fracturing could do to the water on their farms.

And for What’s in a Name, we’ll travel to a small town that’s famous for its unique hunter’s stew.


Credit Michael Barrick

Remembering a Hero: Remembering our Veterans today and everyday: In honor of Veteran’s Day, we wanted to share some memories that one of our listeners has about a veteran who gave his life for our country. Michael Barrick, of West Virginia, sent us this story, about his uncle.

Barrick is the founder of the Appalachian Preservation Project, LLC. It exists to preserve the people, wildlife, land, history and culture of Appalachia. He is a free-lance writer living in Bridgeport, West Virginia.

Veterans Find Renewed Purpose in Kentucky: Veterans are beginning to explore farming hemp with the help of the Growing Warriors Project in Kentucky and North Carolina. The program trains and assists veterans to grow food for their families, their communities, and their country. Mike Lewis founded the Growing Warriors program with the help of his brother, an Army Veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Vets to Agriculture in West Virginia: The Growing Warriors project is also starting to collaborate with a similar initiative in West Virginia, the Warriors and Veterans to Agriculture Program. It serves people like Eric Grandon, a 20-year Army veteran who suffers from PTSD.

Veterans Find Therapy Through Kayaking: There are many organizations and programs across the country that seek to help wounded veterans. Some of those programs, like the Wounded Warrior Project, have received criticism recently from media outlets like the Daily Beast andVeterans Today, questioning the program’s agenda. But a program at Shepherd University that’s in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project seems to be thriving. It’s called the Shepherd University chapter of Team River Runner.


Credit Stu Johnson

Hemp Farming Begins in Kentucky:For the first time in decades, hemp, a form of cannabis that’s used for it’s fiber and seeds has been legally harvested from Kentucky soil. As Kentucky Public Radio’s Stu Johnson reports, the cutting of the test plot happened last month on a University of Kentucky  farm.

Aracoma Mine Victims Remembered in W.Va: The men who died in the Aracoma mine in West Virginia in 2006 didn’t realize they would make the ultimate sacrifice while trying to provide for their families. Now their families are hoping their loved ones’ death is not in vain.  I attended a dedication ceremony held late last month at the National Mining Academy in Beaver, West Virginia. The ceremony was meant to honor and remember the victims.

What’s in a Name … Can you name the town in Appalachia that gets its name from a hearty, hunter stew? Is it Meatcamp, North Carolina? Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, or Bergoo, West Virginia?  Listen to the show to find out.


Credit Charles Hayes

Rattlesnake and Snapping Turtle Burgoo- and Fresh Apple Pie for Dessert: On a cold, dreary October day, a crowd of 600 people gather in the little town of Webster Springs, W.Va. Twenty cooks and 20 Burgoos. Roxy Todd went to the cook-off on cold, rainy Saturday morning, where she tasted Burgoos made with snapping turtle, rattlesnake, elk and bear.

Heirloom Apples Make Award-Winning Hard Cider: Heirloom apples, coveted for their nuanced flavor, are in demand for making hard cider. And if a recent tasting is any indication, that demand will surely grow. Robbie Harris of WFTF has this tasty story.

Wild Ginseng, Wood Thrushes, and Climate Change: A Survival Story

People throughout Appalachia have been digging ginseng roots for centuries. Studies have shown there’s a correlation between increases in unemployment and increases in wild ginseng harvesting. Many Appalachians supplement their living today hunting wild ginseng- especially when times are hardest and employment is low. Reality TV shows are also driving up the popularity, and recently we reported on how wild ginseng could be compromised by increased harvests. Now, Glynis Board has an interesting story about how a little bird might be able to help the plant survive.

How is the Shale Gas Boom Affecting Appalachia? Traditional Appalachian industries, likecoal and timber, have been struggling in recent years. While they’re still still around, it just seems folks can’t depend on finding a job as a coal miner these days. Many Appalachians are picking up new trades for new jobs. In central and northern Appalachia, the natural gas industry is a source of some new jobs. New hydraulic fracturing technology now makes it possible to release gas from the shale rock formation deep underground. With this new technique, gas companies blast water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground at high pressures. But with this new fracking technology comes with new challenges and question.

In some states, like Pennsylvania and West Virginia, state officials have found the process has contaminated personal water wells.  Across the country, environmental activists are fighting to slow down the expansion of fracking. States like New York and Maryland have issued moratoriums until more research is available.

But in the heart of Appalachia, in states starving for jobs like Kentucky and West Virginia, citizens opposed to fracking are finding it difficult to find politicians who will stand with them.

Local Citizens Struggle to Gain Control of Local Fracking Waste Wells : Gas companies say they already face tough state regulations but that oversight doesn’t always ease residents’ fears. As Ohio has become a go-to destination for the nation’s fracking waste, some people worry about earthquakes and water contamination, and argue the state has taken away their authority to decide where and how gas waste is disposed of. Julie Grant of the Allegheny Front reports from Ohio. This story first aired on The Allegheny Front.

Four Communities Across the County Voted to Ban Fracking: Individual communities across the country are also banning the practice. Last week, the city of Athens, Ohio and the city of Denton, Texas voted on ordinances that could give local citizens more power to control, or even ban, fracking or other drilling activities in its borders. Three cities in Ohio failed to pass Bill of Rights that could have allowed the city to take control of fracking activity within its borders.


Credit Michael and Carrie Kline
Mike O’Brien, a farmer in Doddridge County, W.Va. says he has many concerns about hydraulic fracturing in West Virginia.

“Paydirt”: Exploring the Gas Boom in North Central West Virginia: Oral historians Michael and Carrie Kline spoke with a dozen citizens in West Virginia and Ohio on both sides of this issue. Many people they interviewed say they are concerned that not enough research has been done to ensure that hydraulic fracturing is safe for humans who live near drilling sites. They also spoke with researcher Yuri Gorby, from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, about the illnesses he’s seen among residents in the gas fields of Pennsylvania.

“Paydirt” was produced by Carrie Nobel Kline, Miranda Brown and Michael Kline of Talking Across the Lines, with partial funding by the Oral History Association, Helen Engelhardt of Midsummer Sound Productions and transcription services by Adept Word Services. Hear from Ralph Sandora, Mike O’Brien, Scott Rotruck, Yuri Gorby, Paul Schreffler, Allan Tweddle, Bill Gorby, Alan Colins, Sherry Becker-Gorby and Stump with original music by Joe Zelek and Denny Fitzpatrick.