Tree of the Field Wins First-Ever Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition

Pikeville, Ky. – Tree of the Field, a Berea, Ky.-based company, brought home the top prize at the first-ever Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition on Thursday, September 5, 2019 at the Appalachian Center for the Arts.

The event, held in conjunction with the 2019 SOAR Summit, was presented by Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR), USDA Rural Development, and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s KY Innovation Office and sponsored by Peoples Bank, Invest 606, and Toyota Tsusho.

Tree of the Field produces environmentally friendly products including the RediFlame Skeeterlog, a 100% natural insect repellent.  This product uses eight natural oils and is the equivalent of liquid insecticide and sells their products as part of a Chiminea kit.

“Hope is the certainty that something makes sense. We have always been certain that owning and manufacturing the Skeeterlog in Eastern Kentucky makes sense,” said Robin Richmond Mason, owner of Tree of the Field.  “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.”

Mason brought home a $5,000 top prize and plans to use the funding for new packaging for her products which will include the company’s motto of “We have deep roots and high standards.”

A-1 Implements was the second-place winner with $2,500.  This company has created the Hemp Hawk to help alleviate and control weeds in hemp fields. The device increases farm efficiency and enhances crop vitality by completely cultivating, weeding, and hilling functions in one pass.

Friends Drift Inn and Slope Masters tied for the third-place prize receiving $500 each. 

Friends Drift Inn, based in Pike County, is a farm and kitchen with a mission of “Growing a good life in Appalachia.” Slope Masters, based in Floyd County, specializes in electrical services, welding, and fabrication. Their Slope Master Spider has captured the attention of municipalities and large landowners for its unique approach to slope mowing.

The Que, a unique streaming service intended for groups and communities, won the Crowd Favorite award and received $500.

“We couldn’t do this without our partners and our sponsors,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR. “Every single small business and idea on this stage are winners.  They are taking risks and not only creating their future but blazing a trail for others to do so throughout Appalachia Kentucky.”

Ryan Jones, director of business and innovation at SOAR, said the work of business and innovation champions throughout the region is fostering a culture where ideas are shared and begin to take shape.

“It’s rewarding to see how far we have come, but it is exciting to know that this work will continue and culminate at events such as this,” he said.

SOAR Innovation provides free services to small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs who can expand existing markets or create new markets by leveraging technology.  To learn more about SOAR Innovation, visit or contact Jones at or by calling (606) 766-1160.