Where some residents see empty, abandoned buildings in McDowell County, Joel McKinney sees the future of food.
He sees rows upon rows of stacked beds of lettuce — floating on foam boards receiving light by LEDs.
He sees a way to feed his community’s schools and turn a profit at the same time.
He established Roadside Farms in 2014, using an untraditional farming technique to bring a localized food economy to McDowell and help provide more fresh food to his mother’s food bank.
Now, he plans to take it a step further.
McKinney grew up in McDowell, where his mother runs the Five Loaves and Two Fishes food bank in a former grocery store and where his father retired from the coalfields and gives tours of an abandoned mine on occasion…