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Who am I?

May 3, 2012

Who am I?

I decided it really is time to introduce myself. After all, here I am tickling you with emails and Facebook postings to please read and join the Wild Ramp blog by subscribing.

My name is Beth Rankin. I am a pretty new resident of Huntington, West Virginia, having arrived about 5 years ago after marrying Graham, who is a professor of Forensic Science at Marshall University. We live on a small urban lot in the Southside neighborhood of Huntington. One of the first things we did was build a 4×16 raised bed in the backyard and we are proud to be among West Virginia’s “small farmers” as we provide herbs to one of the restaurants in town here, Huntington Prime. I have 3 kids….Dan is 29, Lisa will be 27 this summer, and Sam is 17, a junior at Huntington High School.

I am self-employed. I sell books on, do custom trip planning for people who want to travel, sew bags of all types (purses, winebags, laptop bags etc etc etc), and write blogs for a number of people and organizations. Graham and I also sing in the church choir and are the photographers for the cross country and track teams at HHS.

I grew up in New Jersey. My usual comment at this point is to say I am proud I am FROM New Jersey, not IN New Jersey. There are some beautiful areas of the state but I grew up in New Brunswick, smack dab in the middle of the megalopolis running from Boston to D.C. My parents took us camping around the United States each summer and when my mom complained that I chose to move so far from home I told her it really was her own fault for showing me there were better places.

My memories of travelling through West Virginia are a bit vague…I was collecting horses in those days and we stopped at several of the glass places and I had two I cherished for a long time. This was long before the interstate highway was built and my memory gets fuzzy there probably because I got treated with paregoric for carsickness.

I have lived in Nashville and Memphis, Pittsburgh, Hartford, and Pueblo. You notice the trend: no rural areas. Coming to Huntington meant living in the smallest town I had ever been in. New Brunswick was about the same size but when you live in an area where it is house-house-house-highway-shopping center-house-house (you get the picture) it is hard to know when one town stops and the next begins.

But we gardened. My dad (he grew up in Brooklyn, NY) kept a compost pile eons before suburbia recognized its value and we grew veggies in a 12×20 plot in the side yard. Rhubarb, strawberries, peach, apple and cherry trees, too. All of us had to weed and help pick and help put things up.  My mom grew up on a New Jersey chicken farm, but my grandparents were done with that before I was 7 years old. I have some vague memories of going into the chicken coop with Grandpa and being terrified my feet would get pecked.

My involvement with the local food movement came about because of a wonderful time at Cafe Cimino which then turned into being a member on the team for the Cast Iron CookOff in January. Melody Urbanik suggested to Allen Arnold, the executive director of the Collaborative for 21st Century Appalachia that the website could use a blogger. I started visiting farms and markets around West Virginia and started trying to market the concept of purchasing local food to the potential consumer AKA anyone who eats.  The overlap with Wild Ramp became apparent and so, here I am.

Obviously, I am not a farmer, nor do I run a market. I have no preconceived notions of how a sucessful farm or market operates. But I am a consumer and enjoy cooking wholesome food, and I have a strong level of curiousity and desire to understand.

I ask you to pose issues to me. If you are a farmer in the TriState area, send me photos of your farm, your animals, your crops. In talking about the issues that are near and dear to you as well as the things that concern and frustrate you, we can draw on the brainpower of everyone and it could be that someone across the street has had something similar and can offer a suggestion.

Email me at

Why get involved? Because the more we inform the public, the consumers will understand that there is local food of excellent quality nearby and affordable, the more they will demand your product. It’s a win-win.

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