Pasture to Plate
program may help
expand farmers business
designed to help get home grown produce,
meats to Louisville area restaurants
Helen E. McKinney
Kentucky Edition Cover
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 2009) Chad Heveline
has always wanted a career in farming. When he graduated from Berea
College in 2007 with a bachelors degree in agriculture and the
intent of becoming an Agricultural Extension Agent, the fact that it
was too hard to get a position without his masters degree didnt
stop him. He is determined to make a living by farming, not necessarily
based on traditional methods, but by employing new tactics and services
available to area farmers through Louisville farmers markets.
Heveline and his father, Greg, are partners in Diamond H Farms in Milton,
Ky. Being part of a family of six, the Hevelines have always raised
a large garden to feed their brood. Along with mother, Tracie, they
recently began to expand and sell their produce through farmers markets
in Louisville and Madison, Ind.
We began with two acres of vegetables and now have five acres,
said Chad Heveline, 24. The family raises many crops, which include
spinach, radishes, lettuce, salad mixes, green onions, summer squashes,
sweet corn, green beans, broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers
and more than one acre of potatoes, making them one of if
not the biggest, potato growers in the state.
All of their hard work pays off by selling their produce through the
Norton Commons farmers market in Prospect. This market gives the residents
of the Norton Commons subdivision a chance to purchase fresh, home-grown
produce, meat, bread, jams and flower arrangements all in one spot close
to home. The market is not exclusive to Norton Commons residents.
Providing local farm produce to Louisville farmers markets is a concept
that is beginning to spread into the Louisville food economy through
the efforts of Sarah Fritschner, former Food Editor for the Louisville
Courier-Journal. It was Fritschner who worked in conjunction with the
Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government Economic Development Department
to apply for a $90,000 grant. The Kentucky Agricultural Development
Board has invested money in agricultural diversification projects such
as this across the state in an effort to increase the number of neighborhood
farmers markets and create a network that would connect Kentucky farmers
with Louisville buyers.
Metro Louisville used the money to create a two-year, full-time position
in its economic development department. Fritschner has been selected
to hold this position of Public Interest Broker.
by Don Ward
right) of Milton, Ky.,
sells beef, lamb and
pork along with
produce from his farm
at the Louisville, Ky.,
and Madison, Ind.,
She is a liaison between farmers who seek a variety of
marketing opportunities in the Metro Louisville area and other entities
wanting to purchase local food products from Kentucky producers. Her
position is funded by the Governors Office of Ag Policy Phase
I Tobacco Settlement Cost-Share Funds.
The grant money was given to Metro Louisville with the purpose of taking
down the barriers between rural Kentucky farmers and Louisville
consumers, said Fritschner. The way the money will be used is based
on metrics, she said. It has to do with the increased money farmers
can earn from their products and the number of farmers who successfully
transition away from tobacco.
Fritschners job includes identifying sales opportunities for local
farmers and working with wholesale buyers. She has done just this for
the Hevelines, who have recently begun selling pork, lamb, beef and
produce to downtown Louisville restaurants. Chad Heveline said that
Fritschner has helped set us up with a wholesaler and meetings
with a restaurant.
For example, Proof restaurant, based at 21C Hotel, just bought three
whole hogs. They also are interested in grain-fed beef, said Greg Heveline.
I see a great potential for farmers in the area if this program
The Hevelines also sell beef, pork and lamb products at the Norton Commons
and Madison, Ind., farmers markets. Chad Heveline said they provide
ash-free products products that are antibiotic, steroid and hormone-free.
Among local farmers markets, the demand is growing for meat,
he said. People will pay a little more for it at the farmers market
because they know where its coming from, that its local,
and organic or ash-free.
Heveline said he would like to see local extension offices or other
entities provide a refrigerated truck for farmers to rent or use to
supply fresh meat to restaurants. There is a huge interest in
a lot of restaurants to have fresh, rather than frozen meat, said
The only hitch is that it would have to be USDA inspected. Currently,
the Hevelines take their meat products to Boones Butcher Shop
in Bardstown, Ky., to have it processed because there it is USDA approved.
The Hevelines must freeze the meat in order to store it until it is
sold to their customers. But high-end restaurant chefs want fresh meat
that has not been frozen, Greg Heveline said. It would require a refrigerated
truck to transport the meat from the locker directly to the restaurant,
and buying such a truck is too costly.
Louisville Farmers Market
at Norton Commons has become a
popular and growing scene for customers
seeking fresh produce and meat.
One possible option being studied is to establish a meat
processing plant in the Louisville region, where farmers can deliver
their animals to be butchered and USDA inspected, then meat could be
picked up or delivered directly to restaurants throughout the city.
Chad Heveline sees a barrier to vegetable sales as well. Due to vegetables
having to be washed and packaged a certain way, its hard to compete
with the large producers from California. If several local farmers could
use the same washer and packager, this would make selling vegetables
a lot easier, he said.
Fritschner has introduced the concept of local farmers selling their
wares to farmers markets in Louisville by speaking about the project
through local extension offices. A Market Opportunities Meeting was
held on Sept. 10 in Oldham County to introduce Fritschner to local
producers so that they could discuss available products and potential
markets, said Traci Missun, Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agent for the Oldham County Cooperative Extension Service.
Oldham Countys Ag Development Council supported the Public
Interest Broker position by endorsing it as a high priority project
to the Kentucky Ag Development Board, Missun said. Oldham County
pitched in $250 in addition to the state funding that was received.
Henry, Jefferson, Spencer and Trimble counties contributed $500 each.
A couple of years ago, a group formed to try to think about satisfying
the demand for local products in Louisville while helping farmers in
the rest of the state, said Fritschner. This advisory body, known
as the Local Food Economy Work Group, was comprised of several county
judge-executives, extension agents, private industry people and Metro
Louisville officials. The group applied for a grant to study the feasibly
of increasing sales of locally grown and produced foods in Louisville,
while expanding the local food economy of surrounding counties and communities
Market Ventures of Portland, Maine and Karp Resources of Southold, N.Y.,
completed the $150,000 Regional Farmers Market Feasibility Study titled,
Building Louisvilles Local Food Economy. The Kentucky
Agricultural Development Fund awarded a $75,000 grant to the Economic
Development Department, with the $75,000 balance met by city government
and private partners.
The report concluded that even though a variety of meats
and vegetables are raised in the 23-county Louisville region, farmers
need a stronger support network and infrastructure, more meat and poultry
processing plants and a better distribution networking system. These
are ideas Fritschner is working on.
Many things slow down the process of getting fresh produce into the
Louisville economy, said Fritschner. Her goal is to listen to
farmers, and hear what they want, she said. I want to make
the agricultural sector more stable and secure for the future.
Fritschner is targeting non-traditional, public selling markets that
arent usually on the radar. She would like to establish
CSA farmers groups at two or three businesses in town where there
is a demand for fresh produce.
We know the consumers want local products, Fritschner said.
But we dont know why the products are not making it into
Included in this project is the idea of a public market at a highly
visible downtown Louisville site that would attract new customers from
untapped consumer groups. A possible site for the proposed Jefferson
Public Market is on East Jefferson Street on the former Disney Tires
Susan Hamilton, assistant director of Metro Louisvilles Economic
Development Department, said this public market would be run by private
investors and be a sort of destination market. It would
be open year round, contain vendor booths and even have seasonal activities.
Several counties, like Oldham, already have their own farmers
markets, said Hamilton. The more we work together, the more
well grow. No one group can implement it all.
The feasibility study has been used in numerous ways, Hamilton said.
It gave our region a snapshot of the initiatives happening out
there, and an idea of whos doing what. It informed all of us and
encouraged us to look at regional and local food economies.
There is also a health component to the program. It ties into Metro
Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramsons Healthy Hometown movement, said
Hamilton, which seeks to encourage recreation and healthy eating habits.
If the push into Louisvilles farmers markets and other locations
is successful for local farmers, it will help all markets, while
providing healthy, fresh foods, she said.
Todays farmers markets provide diverse offerings, said Heveline.
They produce an easy go-to, one-stop shop.
To read the entire Building Louisvilles
Local Food Economy study, please visit: www.LouisvilleKy.gov/EconomicDevelopment/
PlanningStudies/RegionalFarmersMarketFeasibilityStudy.htm. To learn
more about the program, contact Sarah Fritschner at (502) 396-5457.
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