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Apple Orchards on Abandoned Coal Mines | American Innovators

The West Virginia National Guard is leading the charge to develop infrastructure across the state by turning abandoned coal mines into apple orchards.

As the coal industry shifted, mountain-top removal flattened the landscape. Now there are great swaths of land lying empty, some with no electricity or water, not the most attractive real estate investment. And with coal production declining over 50% in the past decade, West Virginia could use some investment, in their land, and their workforce.

That’s exactly what Patriot Guardens aims to do. Through a grant with the federal government, they’re transforming an abandoned mine site into a fertile apple orchard, restoring jobs to the community and revitalizing the land. In a joint effort with the USDA, they’re conducting important research to address food security on a national level, building more resilient varieties of fruit that can withstand the changing climate, so we can grow more of our own food in American soil.

When Major General (ret.) James A. Hoyer founded Patriot Guardens, people took to calling him “Jimmy Appleseed ” and “Jimmy Greenthumb,” to which he purportedly said: “I’m a two-star general. I know this is going to work. And, it’s the right thing to do.” Hoyer founded Patriot Guardens because he knew at baseline — everybody needs to eat, and addressing food security on a local and national level is implicit to the health of our nation.

Brigadier General William Crane – The Adjutant General, West Virginia National Guard
Major General (Ret.) James A. Hoyer – Former Adjutant General, West Virginia National Guard
Melissa Stewart – Director of Patriot Guardens
Cindy Bailey – Director of Economic Development, West Virginia Military Authority
Doug Raines – Director of Agriculture Operations, Patriot Gardens, USDA, and the West Virginia Military Authority
Ben Meckley – Procurement Officer, Patriot Apple Project
Scott Byars – Ag Specialist, Patriot Guardens
Dayton Thomas Jr. – Assistant Site Supervisor, Patriot Apple Project
Crandall Donelson – Patriot Apple Project, Farm Crew

Special thanks to Major Holli R. Nelson, Director of Strategic Communications and Governmental Affairs for Joint Forces Headquarters West Virginia National Guard and Commander of the 130th Force Support Squadron. Thanks also to the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, the USDA Agricultural Resource Service, the Library of Congress, and to the West Virginia Military Authority.

Directed by Eric Feigenbaum
Created by Conor Gaughan and Kate Tucker
Written and hosted by Kate Tucker

Produced by Consensus Digital Media in partnership with Remedial Media

Executive Producer – Kate Tucker
Executive Producer – Jessie English
Executive Producer – Eric Feigenbaum
Executive Producer – Conor Gaughan

Editor – Nicholas Nazmi
Assistant Editor – David Connolly
Director of Photography – Jared Watson
Camera Operator – Liza Gipsova
Sound Engineer – Tom Eichler
Super Swing/Gaffer/DIT – Isaac Rosenthal
Production Assistant – Justin Stebbins
Audio Mixer / Sound Design – Dillon Terry
Color Grading – Bilal Saif
Graphic Design – Stephen Lepsch

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