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Sustainability, Culture and Rural Development

Hidden away with a backdrop of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, Floyd Virginia is on to something unique and new.  Experience a resilient community, complete with rich history and many expressions of sustainable, local initiatives underway to address the issues of our time.   

Appalachia has long been seen as the epicenter of the “war on poverty”.  Ever since President Johnson declared “unconditional war on poverty in America,” Appalachia has held special significance in the national effort.  The official definition of Appalachia also formed in the early 1960s, as regional governors encouraged the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to assist their mountain counties, where one in three residents lived in poverty. The resulting legislation, the Appalachian Regional Development Act, added a unique, place-based dimension to the War on Poverty’s suite of national programs.

Government programs are one response, but what can a community do for itself?  What is true self-reliance?  You will be engaged with community members who are interested to share their experience and invite you into their community life.

This program has the potential benefit of touching participants with a deep sense of the authenticity and significance of the Appalachian Mountains and the people who live there. And the real service comes in the breaking of old ideas and stereotypes about people from Appalachia. Additionally, there is a service rendered by better understanding the global effort to balance the needs of humanity with the needs of the Earth. 

To experience Floyd County in all its diversity is the aim of this program. For this it is important to connect with both the old traditions and the new ones. Participants will be close to the land where they experience the forces of nature and have time to be penetrated by the quiet of this landscape. They will work with the soil and water and in the forest. As the project headquarters is located in a large farmhouse overlooking a secluded river valley, visitors take on projects related to farming, gardening and environmental restoration. There are also opportunities to learn about and work with honeybees. There is a workshop given about the “basics of organic gardening”. There are also short sessions on identifying birds and wild plants.

This project includes opportunities for participants to engage in traditional Appalachian activities. There are workshops on canning and jam making. A demonstration of the ancient art of dowsing for water.  A clogging class precedes the Friday Night Jamboree at the Floyd Country Store. The Jamboree is a tradition in Floyd, a moment when the community gathers for music and fellowship and to dance to old-time fiddle and banjo tunes. For those interested, we can visit the studio of a local luthier where it’s possible to see how traditional musical instruments are made. It is also possible to engage in a demonstration of traditional horse logging.

Loyola University Maryland 

"l highly recommend Via International as a great host agency for meaningful immersion programs, both domestic and international. They are rooted in the community with years of experience and relationships, organized and offer great educational input for the participants. They have everything you need fora comprehensive experience. 

Andrea Coicochea, Assistant Director International Immersions

The Impact

The experience of an immersion program impacts post-travel


Discover a resilient community that encompasses traditional values from both old-timers and newcomers alike.


Analyze various methods of self-reliance and sustainable living in a rural setting.


Participate in community-defined service projects supporting sustainable agriculture and traditional customs.


Learn how a community can remain self-reliant in the face of impoverishment.


Understand how balancing the needs of humanity with the needs of the Earth is not just a local effort, but a global one.

Interested in visiting this location?

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