Appalachian Food Summit Announces 2022 Fellowship Awardees

News from the Field

from Appalachian Food Summit

The Appalachian Food Summit Board (AFS) has announced the 2022 recipients of its two new fellowship programs: the Appalachian Foodways Practitioner Fellowships and the Mountain Foodways Media Fellowships. In this inaugural year, AFS is awarding three foodways practitioner fellowships and one media fellowship to outstanding foodways practitioners and media makers in the region.

Appalachian Foodways Practitioner Fellowships
The new Appalachian Foodways Practitioner Fellowships are intended to honor, celebrate, and support foodways tradition bearers and practitioners in Central Appalachia who have made significant and long-term contributions to sustaining and supporting the foodways heritage of their respective communities.

The 2022 Appalachian Foodways Practitioner Fellows are:

●       Yawah Awolowo of Knoxville, Tennessee

●       Travis and Rebecka Fugate of Emmalena, Kentucky

●       Wayne Riley of London, Kentucky

Yawah Awolowo is a culinary artist, community activist, and owner of the Organic Roots Cafe, the only organic vegan/vegetarian cafe in Knoxville, Tennessee. She works to share knowledge about food and agriculture, especially vegan and vegetarian cooking, and to foster “living cuisine” that prioritizes healthy minds and bodies within traditional foodways. Awolowo created the Urban Youth Network and Garden Program for children living in public housing, and she has served as Assistant Executive Chef at the Children’s Defense Fund’s Haley Farm and Workshop Center Manager at the Highlander Research and Education Center. She is a member of National Women in Agriculture and Vice President of Cottage House, Inc., a women’s organization that focuses on agriculture and youth. She has traveled the world as a community food activist and hosted a workshop at the World Social Forum in Porto Allegra, Brazil. Awolowo will be using the fellowship monies to support her Functional Foods project, educating the next generation in Appalachia on traditional foodways, nutrition, and living cuisines.

Siblings Rebecka and Travis Fugate are the owners and operators of Good For Your Heart Farms in Eastern Kentucky and passionate foodways practitioners. They were raised in a family of rich Appalachian foodways traditions, and Rebecka was inspired by her son’s dietary needs to begin growing and preserving her own food. Rebecka helped establish the Knott County Farmers Market, through an AmeriCorps VISTA position at Hindman Settlement School, and Rebecka and Travis are active members of Grow Appalachia. They regularly lead educational tours of the farm for young adults in the area and have twice hosted the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange, which helps urban and rural participants discover their unique and shared heritages. Rebecka earned a Home-Based Micro Processing Certification to extend her community’s access to local food and teaches others how to preserve and can themselves. With the GoodForYourHeartFarm YouTube channel, Rebecka and Travis are sharing their knowledge and experience with a larger audience as well. Rebecka and Travis will use their fellowship funds to invest in a seed saving vault, build a website, and support professional development opportunities that will assist them in their foodways work with K-12 students.

Wayne Riley is the founder and director of Kentucky’s Laurel County African American Heritage Center, an organization committed to conserving the traditions and legacy of the local African American community. Riley founded LCAACH in honor of his late aunt, Lutisha Riley Bailey, and his work has had an immeasurable impact on the community, particularly in local foodways. He founded Heritage Farms and Heritage Community Commercial Kitchen, where local residents can prepare food items for sale and learn about local traditions of preserving and canning. His regular barbecues and fish fries are well-known in the community. Riley is also the manager and director of the Grow Appalachia Food Security Project in Laurel County. He has completed the Brushy Fork Institute programs for Management of Non-Profit Organizations and Ordinary Communities Achieving Extraordinary Results, and he is a recipient of the Berea College Service Award. Riley will be using his fellowship funds to improve the heat and air system of the Heritage Community Kitchen.

A monetary award of $4,000 will support the ongoing community-based work of the awardees. The fellows will be honored at an upcoming Appalachian Food Summit event.

Fellowship candidates were nominated by the general public, and nominations were reviewed by an external panel of members of the Appalachian foodways community. The Appalachian Foodways Practitioner Fellowships are made possible by Mid Atlantic Arts’ Central Appalachia Living Traditions program and the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky.

Mountain Foodways Media Fellowships
The new Mountain Foodways Media Fellowships support the work of journalists, writers, and media producers with roots in and respect for Appalachia to report a longform journalistic article or media project (such as photo essay) that explores some aspect of food culture or production in the region.

The 2022 Mountain Foodways Media Fellow is Marlyn McClendon of Hillsboro, West Virginia.

Marlyn McClendon’s photo documentary project, Shiku, explores how Korean women who relocate to West Virginia––often after marrying U.S. military servicemen––find community, alleviate cultural isolation, and maintain ancestral connections through time-honored culinary traditions. Marlyn grew up in a mixed-race household in Huntington, West Virginia learning to make kimchi, japchae, and other dishes from her Korean mother. Her parents met in the early 1980s, when her father, originally from Preston County, West Virginia, was stationed at a U.S. military base in South Korea. Marlyn now lives in the mountains of Pocahontas County, where she encourages her two young daughters to connect to their Korean heritage through music, language, and food.

A monetary award of $2,000 will support the fellow’s work. The Mountain Foodways Media Fellowships are made possible by the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky.

For more information on the Appalachian Food Summit’s fellowship program, visit:

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