Southwestern PA Food Shed

Everyone should have that one particular aspect of their job in which they find great satisfaction. Doctors get to go home knowing they healed the sick and injured; school teachers get to inspire their students to strive for fulfilling careers; and carnival clowns find great humor in the pure terror they instill in our youth after a long night laughing it up. Me, when I'm not suffering from coulrophobia, I feel most accomplished with Rusty Dog Studio when a project wraps up, my designs are displayed for all to see, and my customer is able to use and gain from the marketing materials I've provided them.


Earlier this summer I had the unique opportunity to work with Bob Junk, of Republic Food Enterprise Center (RFEC), on the preparation and launch of the Southwestern PA Development of a Local Food Shed project. $1.75 million was awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission to RFEC in order to develop this initiative. The project will develop a robust local food shed that provides new and diverse economic opportunities to communities in 38 counties impacted by the decline of the coal industry across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. It is anticipated that the project will serve 50 existing businesses, create 10 new businesses and 100 jobs, and leverage $3.5 million in private investment.


I know - that was a good bit of heavy information I just dropped. My part in all of this, you ask? Rusty Dog Studio was hired to turn this information into a visual poster for display, provide the printed materials and setup the essentials of the project's online presence. With some creative planning, I worked with Bob Junk to create variations of this design (above) to relay the overall mission of this project. The end products were a custom tri-fold poster with matching handbill, the creation of and setups of the project's social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I then worked with Erin Hart, of Farm to Table Western PA, to help publicize an unveiling event at Republic Food Enterprise Center. It was a 4th and 10 job, but all was completed within a week. Look at me and my football reference.

Tri-Fold Coroplast Poster designed and printed by Rusty Dog Studio

Facebook @swpafoodshed

Mobile-friendly view of site.

Working on this project opened my eyes to the hard work and dedication of our local community of farmers, producers, and government workers. At least three times a day most of us take for granted the ease of settling our appetites without understanding the totality of work that must happen to keep our refrigerators full of healthy foods. After my portion of this project was all said and done I was graciously invited to RFEC to not only see my work on display, but to meet the local community of agriculture based small businesses and to hear our government and industry leaders share their aspirations for this project. While seeing a flyer I designed in someone's hand was my great accomplishment, Bob Junk shared a story which made us better understand the soul of a farmer. He reminisced about early mornings working the fields in freezing temperatures, so much so that an ear of corn would break from the stalk like an icicle. Bob reminded us that he and his fellow farmers don't work these hours in these conditions because it brings them a sense of personal accomplishment. Their sacrifice is in providing for us all; so that doctor can help her patients get on an affordable, healthy diet; that school teacher can be sure his student's bellies are full and brains are ready to learn; and that hilarious clown invading your personal space can go home to feed his even scarier clown family.


Much thanks to Bob Junk at Republic Food Enterprise Center for the opportunity to have a small part in such a large undertaking. If you are interested in the next steps of this initiative, Republic Food Enterprise Center and Farm to Table Western PA would be great resources.


Southwestern PA Food Shed

Be sure to sign up for the newsletter at and follow the project on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @SWPAfoodshed

Southwestern PA is blessed with an abundance of prime farmland, fresh water, centers of innovation and technology, and good access to market. These are prime assets for developing new agricultural clusters in local sheep, lamb and goats, poultry and produce. This initiative supports Governor Wolf’s commitment to expand employment opportunities for former coal workers and others looking for new careers in agriculture.
— Russell Redding, PA Secretary of Agriculture