South Central KY: Local Food For Everyone Initiative

{A great group of people in south central Kentucky have received a grant from the USDA. They will be using it to help further promote the local food movement in that area. My friend Michelle of Need More Acres kindly put together some info about the Local Food for Everyone initiative so that you can learn more about what this grant will do—and farmers, check out the opportunity to get free advertising!}

Western Kentucky University and Community Farmers Market have received a Farmers Market Promotion Program grant from the USDA to promote locally grown foods in South Central KY.  A portion of this grant is to benefit local farmers by helping develop business skills, brand their business, and assist them in finding a marketplace for locally grown foods.  Another portion of the grant is to expand accessibility to new markets in South Central Kentucky.  The idea is that Local Food For Everyone will be able to increase the customer base while developing the farmers to be able to meet demand.

The Local Food For Everyone Initiative will do the following:

  • Host semi-annual local food events, such as the Food Day event on October 24th and Meet Your Farmer events that bring farmers and consumers together.
  • Construction of a mobile food market trailer that will be used by local chefs to travel to schools, markets, and low income communities.
  • Publication of a free semi-annual directory of local food producers, farmers, markets, and restaurants that use local food.

“Our team is happy to receive these USDA funds to support and engage local farmers and ranchers. It is not intended to be exclusive to a single market, Bowling Green or Warren County, but will assist all producers in our region of the state.  The focus of this grant is to increase the profitability of local farmers and ranchers by increasing their market penetration. The theme is ‘getting connected to local food.’ While the goal is to help producers, their success will be the success of the public, too.”  ~Dr. Martin Stone, Leichhardt Professor of Horticulture in WKU’s Department of Agriculture

The grant was a partnership between several local food advocates who were passionate about making food more realistic for everyone in their community.  Michelle Howell of Need More Acres has always been interested in local food production having worked at Jackson’s Orchard through high school and college and then pursuing a career in extension.  But it wasn’t until her oldest children went from breastfeeding to table food that she really began to examine the foods that she was purchasing and preparing.

“There is such a powerful connection that a mom experiences to her child when breastfeeding.  As my children grew older, I couldn’t help to believe that there should be more meaningful experiences and connection to our food than simply shopping at a supermarket.  My husband was selling watermelons and heirloom tomatoes at a local farmers market and we started purchasing more and more of our food locally.  We were soon challenging ourselves to buying as many foods locally as possible.  I would visit farms all year long to purchase our milk, meat, and eggs, fruits, and vegetables—sometimes driving long distances to do so.”  ~Michelle Howell, Local Food For Everyone Director

Michelle realized that she wasn’t the average consumer.  Living on one income with a growing family, she began seeing that if given the ability and making it more convenient more people would be willing to purchase local foods as well.  When Community Farmers Market opened in 2011, other people were attracted to the idea of making local food more accessible to everyone in Bowling Green.  There was instantly a wide variety of customers.  The market was seeing moms with young children, refugee and immigrant families, college students, seniors, busy middle income families looking for cooking tips and ideas.  A team of local food enthusiasts was formed and they began looking at what other cities were doing to promote local food.  They spent the winter researching, visiting organizations like Community Food Advocates, and partnering with the WKU Office of Sustainability to see what options were available in funding.

“Through Local Food For Everyone, we hope to accomplish exactly what our initiative states: making local food accessible to everyone—regardless of one’s socioeconomic background.  Local, fresh, healthy foods should not be a privilege reserved only for upper-middle and upper-class members of our nation. Also through LFFE, we are going to partner with area organizations to hold cooking demonstrations, nutrition education, and use these organizations as locations for our mobile market. We are going to work in partnership with existing programs in our area that are already doing such good work with healthy initiatives, and we think these partnerships will bring us the most success—working together to promote healthy food access.”  Brittany Ryan, Local Food For Everyone Outreach Coordinator

Local Food for Everyone reached out to partner Liberty Printing in Bowing Green who will be helping provide farmers with logo design and advertisement development for the upcoming local food publication.  This is going to be a great way for farmers to develop a marketing outreach campaign that reaches individual consumers, restaurants, and other buyers in the area.  The local food directory featured in the publication as well as online and in a mobile app will assist customers in purchasing more of their food locally.  Farmers have the opportunity to get involved for free through the Farmer Development Incentive Awards.

Those participating in the Farmer Development Incentive Awards receive the following:

  • Free logo design from Liberty Printing
  • Free advertisement in upcoming local food publication ‘eat’ (distributed to over 10,000 people in South Central, KY in 2013)
  • Free participation in upcoming Meet Your Farmer events
  • Deadline to apply is January 8, 2013.  Visit www.localfoodforeveryone.org to apply

This project has good timing as it has lined up with the goals and objectives of the BRADD Community Health Planning Council.  The Local Food For Everyone initiative will be a key component to the efforts to address access and awareness of healthy food choices.  The initiative will play a partnership role over the next three years with an emphasis in a reduction of childhood obesity.  The group will be partnering with the Barren River District Health Department who is seeking assistance from Heather Hyden with Community Farm Alliance to pursue a Community Food Assessment.  This assessment will help direct future efforts in efficiently meeting the local food needs of everyone in the community.

“I will be focusing on ways to bring together diverse partners like health department staff, farmers, and universities to assess the potential and barriers for developing a local food system through a community food system assessment.   I hope that this brings attention to Bowling Green as a new leader in local food system development in Kentucky. The diverse partners that are working to make the Local Food For Everyone initiative happen is a model for the rest of the state.  In addition, I hope that this event is a catalyst for community action.“ ~Heather Hyden with Community Farm Alliance

To learn more about the Local Food for Everyone initiative, visit the LFFE website or connect with LFFE on Facebook.

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3 Responses to “South Central KY: Local Food For Everyone Initiative”

  1. November 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    We produce Organic and naturally grown vegie, eggs, meat, and milk and have a bakery. Along with our “Sharing the Harvest” csa, a community small sustainable family farms,we supported over 50 families last summer and have a winter CSA on going .
    As the spokes person for Sharing the Harvest, I was wondering if we would be able to participate in “Sustainable Kentucky”. As it seams that we fit the criteria. We are in Christian and Trigg Co. in the Western part of the state, in Cadiz. We are about 90 min from Bowling Green. We have the ability to produce and grow a lot more, and are looking to expand into other areas. If you would like to talk to me personally please, email.
    Many Blessings, Ginger

  2. October 8, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    Did you know that certain types of organic based nutrients can act as an appetite suppressant and do not contain excitotoxins.
    Some unscrupulous farmers label their agricultural
    products as organic just be able to sell them at premium prices even if they do not really practice sound organic farming practices.
    promotes critical losses of water, nutrients,
    soil organic matter and soil biota, harming forests rangeland and
    natural ecosystems. Coffee enthusiasts everywhere now have
    the choice of forgoing their normal cup of coffee and going “natural”.
    To support this effort, we ought to buy organic produce as well.

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