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Rural Blog: Kentucky small business Tree of the Field wins first Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition


Tree of the Field, a Kentucky company that produces environmentally friendly products, won the first-ever Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition earlier this month.

The contest was held in conjunction with the 2019 Shaping Our Appalachian Region Summit, and was presented by SOAR, the USDA Rural Development, and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s Innovation Office, according to the press release.

The company’s products include a campfire-building kit, an ink pen with a viable tree seed in its biodegradable barrel (so you can plant it when you’re done with it), and an all-natural “Skeeterlog” loaded with essential oils that, when tossed onto your campfire, will repel insects.

Owner Robin Richmond Mason of Berea said she plans to use the $5,000 prize for new packaging for her products. She said winning the prize validates her decision to own and manufacture her products in Eastern Kentucky: “We are creating jobs and a highly effective, all natural, mosquito repellent. Winning the pitch affirms that others are beginning to catch a glimpse of what the production of environmentally sustainable products that meet real human needs, can mean for our region.”

A-1 Implements took home the $2,500 second prize for its Hemp Hawk, a device that helps alleviate and control weeds in hemp fields.

Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR, said all the small businesses that competed were winners: “They are taking risks and not only creating their future but blazing a trail for others to do so throughout Appalachia Kentucky.”

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The Rural Blog is a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, from the IRJCI, based at the University of Kentucky. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is an extension program for rural journalists and news outlets. It takes no positions on issues and advocates only for strong news coverage, responsible commentary and things that make them possible, such as open-government laws. For more information see www.RuralJournalism.org.


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