Nicholas Chronicle Article About Five Rivers

Below is an excerpt from an article published June 3, 2021 in the Nicholas County Chronicle

Taking it to the Hoop: Sustainable farming in downtown Richwood

The sun had just broken through the morning mist Tuesday when Joanna Greer and I drove down to the 5 Rivers Cooperative off Edgewood Drive. Norvill Clark and Keith Doverspike were already at work, pulling up tarps inside one of the five large hoop houses or farm tunnels. The tunnels were built from a 200-foot tunnel that Norvill and others disassembled in Summers County and brought over the mountains to Richwood. Clark and Doverspike were preparing the soil under the tarps for tilling later that afternoon. By July, 2021. Five Rivers hopes to be selling tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and more at a farmers’ market at the Richwood depot and other places in Richwood. The tunnel farm is funded by a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission called Growing Capacity in Central Appalachia. Clark is Executive Director of the cooperative, which is a non-profit partnering with Vicky’s Market owner Cornell DeGregory. DeGregory donated the land; the vegetables grown there will be sold at his roadside market.
But the scope of 5 Rivers is much broader. Designed to encourage sustainable, small-scale agriculture in Richwood, the farm will allow anyone who wants to cultivate a portion of the hoop houses to grow vegetables. Five Rivers will provide training in state-of-the-art organic techniques for farming. Paid student interns will work with locals at the hoops or at their homes to assist them in planting, cultivating, harvesting and packaging their vegetables.

Pictured is Joanna Greer. Ms. Greer recently moved back to Richwood, WV and has been studying organic farming methods at Sprouting Farms (Five River Cooperative’s Incubator). She will be volunteering at Five Rivers..

The training component of the cooperative comes from another nonprofit in Summers County run by Doug and April Koenig. Called Sprouting Farms, this group has several hoop houses located in Talcott, which also trains local farmers and helps them sell their crops. Jo Greer has been learning from them for nearly a year since she moved back home from Maryland. She will be volunteering with the Five Rivers team. Sprouting Farms works with a private, for-profit enterprise called Turnrow. Turnrow is a for-profit distribution business that buys the packaged vegetables from local farmers and takes them all around the state to different merchants, including Kroger, Capital Market and Walmart. Customers can even order online at The purpose of Turnrow is to create
a sustainable localized food system to support small farmers and improve food availability in the region.

Pictured is Norvill Clark, Executive Director at Five Rivers, Inc. Here he is tilling the soil inside High Tunnel One, prepping the high tunnel for Five Rivers’ first crop of tomatoes.

It sounds complicated, but the vision of fresh locally-grown vegetables on sale at a farmers’ market, possibly at the depot, is beautifully simple. I love the interplay between private businesses and nonprofits, young eager interns and seasoned, experienced farmers. The proceeds from one of the hoop houses will help fund programs at the local COPE center, and persons in recovery
will be able to work at the farm. Teens will also be involved through programs Sponsored by High Rocks, Inc.

Pictured with Five Rivers’ Executive Director is Keith Doverspike, a retired contractor now living in Richwood. Keith also volunteers time at the facility and was instrumental in the installation of the high tunnels used at Five Rivers.

Clark explained that the covered tunnels will allow growing to take place inside the hoops for 11 months. “One of these tunnels can generate $70,000 in sales in one year,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised that someday, kale from Richwood will be sold in Washington, D.C.”
Contact Susan Johnson at

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