Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Shaunna Scott


This project explores the agricultural heritage and current social landscape of the Stinking Creek community of Knox County, Kentucky, and the legacy of the local nonprofit organization the Lend-A-Hand Center. Through participatory research, this project presents a reflexive account of the Lend-A-Hand Center Grow Appalachia Gardening Program examining the diverse economy of the Stinking Creek watershed and possibilities for new economic imaginings and post-coal futures for central Appalachia. This dissertation includes an oral history project, a theoretical examination, and an ethnographic reflection, bridging several literatures in the fields of agricultural history, Appalachian Studies, Participatory Action Research, research within the diverse economy framework, and feminist political ecology. For three years I coordinated the Grow Appalachia program through the Lend-A-Hand Center, developing agricultural initiatives in Knox County, working to re-localize food systems through home gardens, community gardens, and the establishment of the Knox County Farmers’ Market, and gathering stories through oral histories on the Creek. Problematizing the 1967 book Stinking Creek, by John Fetterman, this account of the community seeks to call attention to the importance of critical analyses of representations of people, processes, and places. In the face of pressing social issues in central Appalachia and renewed interest in the discourses of development, local food, and post-coal transition, this work seeks to intervene in region-wide discussions and suggest avenues for change and possibility. The Lend-A-Hand Center Grow Appalachia Gardening Program illustrates the potentials for community-based agriculture projects in the region to promote a variety of economic processes, foster and preserve agricultural traditions, and impact the conversation about outlooks for the region. This research provides policy and programmatic suggestions regarding the importance of relocalization of food systems and different (re)presentations of community narratives as part of a multifaceted agenda toward a just, sustainable future for eastern Kentucky and the region.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

Support for this project provided by: Kentucky Oral History Commission, University of Kentucky Appalachian Center, University of Kentucky Department of Sociology, University of Kentucky Graduate School, Grow Appalachia