Great minds inspire the rest of us to make change. In Kentucky (and points distant), our great mind is Wendell Berry and, inspired by him, we work to make a local food economy something that can support 84,000 Kentucky farmers who are looking for jobs now that tobacco isn’t an option for income. Much of the effort centers in Louisville, which at $2 billion, is the largest food market in the state for Kentucky farmers.
Many of us work to increase the portion of that market for farmers. My part is as a “broker” of sorts, bringing farmers and buyers to work out solutions to all the obstacles that seem to prevent people from buying local food. My job as coordinator of Louisville Farm to Table was created by a group of elected officials, some thought leaders among the private sector, and Wendell Berry, who lives in a nearby county. The group hired researchers to study the Louisville market and the surrounding counties, which include the most productive tobacco counties in the world. The researchers confirmed that Louisville could be a lucrative market for Kentucky farmers, and the group of thought leaders began looking at growing food as a partial solution to the declining tobacco market.
While people across the country are investigating and solving issues surrounding local food economies, this blog addresses the bumps, barriers and potholes impeding the progress in this specific region with its uniqueness and universality.
Bumps, barriers and potholes impeding the progress of local food systems are legion and they are recognized or verbalized by astoundingly few people. I hope this blog can provoke readers to respond with best practices, solutions, contradictions, counter arguments and ideas that I haven’t heard of or thought of, and apparently many others haven’t either.