Agricultural Marketing Project and Solar Greenhouse Employment Project

One of the themes Bill Dow and many of the other early SHC leaders frequently discussed was the fact that people’s health, statistically, was more closely related to their economic well-being than to their access to health care facilities. The SHC always had a broad understanding of “health”. While there clearly is a need for access to health care, the need for economic security and development could be considered just as critical for the health of a community and its residents.

This understanding lead to two clear “spinoffs” from the Coalition: “Agricultural Marketing Projects” (AMP) in Tenn., Ala., Ga., and N.C., and also the “Solar Greenhouse Employment Project”.

Agricultural Marketing Projects were organized as groups of farmers coming together to set up parking lot farmers’ markets, with growers selling their own produce from the back of their pickup trucks. This direct farmer-to-consumer marketing model eliminated the middle man, allowing farmers to capture the full retail price for their goods and consumers to receive fresher produce. It also facilitated direct interaction between customers and the growers of their food. The first AMP was formed in Tennessee, closely associated with the SHC. It was led by Lindsay Jones and John Vlcek. Bill Dow became the “Johnny Appleseed” of new AMPs that were later begun in Alabama and Georgia. Ala. AMP was led by Duna Norton; Ga. AMP was lead by SHC alum Jack Beckford. Years later, Bill moved to North Carolina, took up organic farming, and became the leader of the farm to market movement still strong in N.C. 40 years later.

The “Solar Greenhouse Employment Project” was founded by Bill Dow along with another SHC alum, Randy Hodges, in 1979. Randy worked as the lead construction manager in this demonstration project promoting and building solar greenhouses. These greenhouses, designed to be attached to farmer’s homes, lengthened the farmer’s growing season and provided additional income. They also provided free solar heat into farmhouses during the winter months. The project not only encouraged small farmers to build them for their own use and benefit, but also to construct them for others as a side business.