Sowing a Regenerative System, Growing a Resilient Appalachia.

We are passionate about restoring and protecting the farming communities, natural resources, and agricultural heritage of the Appalachian region.

Accelerating Appalachia builds resilient and regenerative systems to strengthen agricultural businesses, communities, and economies.

Green River Picklers, Photographed by Katie Teague

Our History: We Are Closing Agriculture's Equity Gap

Accelerating Appalachia was founded to help small, nature-based businesses access resources and expand opportunities in the growing market for climate-smart, regenerative commodities. Small businesses often lack access to resources available to larger businesses. Accelerating Appalachia was created to close that gap.

In 2013, Accelerating Appalachia developed the world’s first accelerator program focused on regenerative agriculture. The accelerator helped seed-stage businesses and producers of food, fibers and forest products by providing training in regenerative agriculture and connections with investors and peer businesses.

The accelerator's launch was met with an overwhelming response. The first session received over 100 applications from around the world, with an inaugural session of eleven businesses. 10 years later, accelerator graduates have collectively leveraged over $20.2 million in investments.

We continue this mission with our Building Soil, Building Equity program that has a $12 million farmer fund to train and incentivize farmers and producers to adopt CSAF practices.


Launched the Building Soil, Building Equity program, a ground-breaking initiative to incentivize farmers to adopt climate-smart, regenerative agriculture practices across eight states in Appalachia and the Southeast.


In response to COVID-19 pandemic, restructured programming to provide consultations with individuals and farmers.


Received first Patagonia Award, beginning an ongoing funding partnership with awards totaling over $100,000. Accepted a fellowship with Echoing Green, a global organization supporting innovative social impact leadership.


Partnered with Lush Cosmetics, a global personal care brand, to connect the company with the Appalachian regional network of botanical growers.


Partnered with Brown-Forman, one of the largest American companies in the spirits and wine business, to connect with accelerator participants at their headquarters in Louisville, KY.


Partnered with Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC to train and connect sustainable agriculture business students and entrepreneurs.


Expanded network of farmers and agriculture businesses across Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. Seed funding from impact investor, activist, philanthropist, Sallie Calhoun allowed Accelerating Appalachia to significantly increase impact across the region.


Partnered with Walnut Grove Farms, Woodford Reserve, and RiverBend Malthouse to develop the first all-Kentucky-sourced distiller's malt. Accepted a fellowship to Common Future, a California-based organization supporting community-driven solutions to advance racial and economic equity.


Accelerating Appalachia launched the world's first regenerative agriculture-based business accelerator and Central/Southern Appalachia's first social impact accelerator supported by a regenerative agriculture-focused investor network.


With funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Founding Director SaraDay Evans formed Accelerating Appalachia to develop a business accelerator focused on regenerative agriculture.

Our Team: We are Accelerating Appalachia

Portrait of SaraDay Evans.

SaraDay Evans CEO and Founding Director

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Portrait of Christy Reaves.

Christy Reaves Administration and Finance Director

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Portrait of Le'Shae Robinson.

Le'Shae Robinson Chief Communications Officer

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Portrait of John Moore.

John Moore Chief Data Officer

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Advisory Board: Our People Are Our Strength

We bring in seasoned entrepreneurs, investors, and proven practitioners as mentors who advise our agriculture businesses.

Wendell Berry

bell hooks

In Memoriam

Desiree Adaway

Founder and Principal The Adaway Group

Antoinette Carroll

Founder, President, CEO Creative Reaction Lab

Michelle Long


Joe Schmidt


Tom Lotrecchiano


Andrea Armeni

Transform Finance

Darrell Glasgow

Social Mission Architects

Jane Hatley

Self-Help Credit Union

Josh Dorfman

Director of Entrepreneurship Venture Asheville

Soody Tronson

Soody Tronson Law Group

Jeffrey Schmitt

Interim Executive Director The Heart of the Healer Foundation

Catherine Covington

RSF Social Finance

Justin Belleme

JB Media

Jim Roberts

Executive Director Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship University of North Carolina Wilmington

Shaun Paul

Reinventure Capital

David McConville

President The Buckminster Fuller Institute

Pam Lewis

Appalachian EB5

Michael Whelchel

Co-Founder & Partner Watershed Capital

Richard Piggosi

Founder & Chairman Pegasus Capital

Ross Baird

Executive Director Village Capital

Rosa Lee Harden & Kevin Jones

Co-Founders SOCAP

Daniel Goldman

Managing Director Ignition Angels