to Table making progress
in connecting farmers, chefs
designed to promote
local food producers in region
Helen E. McKinney
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 2010) Metro Louisville
Mayor Jerry Abramsons initiative to connect regional farmers and
consumers in Louisville seems to be gaining momentum. The program is
a collaborative effort of elected officials, small and large businesses,
poet and farmer Wendell Berry of Henry County, and county cooperative
I think weve learned a lot during this season,
said Sarah Fritschner, who oversees the program. Fritschner is a former
Louisville Courier-Journal Food Editor. The program is supported through
grants from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and Wired65,
a group that is developing a regional economic development strategy.
Farmers have to make a certain minimum to sell their product,
she said. If management can help farmers, I think theres
potential for these markets. But without support, its unlikely
theyll be successful.
Traci Missun, Oldham County Cooperative Extension Agent for Agriculture
and Natural Resources, said: One thing thats often misunderstood
about farmers markets is pricing.
Food at a farmers market may be priced higher than at the local grocery
because the food found at farmers markets is hand-raised, usually
with much care by folks who take pride in providing high-quality products
to their customers.
Maryellen Garrison, Henry County Cooperative Extension Agent for Family
and Consumer Sciences, said: Community markets are the first entry
point for many farmers just starting to diversify. The markets enable
farmers to start produce enterprises and related ventures without necessarily
having to make a large-scale investment.
Fritschner cited four different categories that seem to be working for
the Farm to Table program. The first is a one-on-one relationship established
between a farmer and a restaurant who agree to make a business deal
with each other. She said Stone Cross Farms in Spencer County, Ky.,
is a good example of this idea.
Stone Cross Farms is selling pork burger to Patrick OSheas, located
in downtown Louisville by the new arena. It also is selling sausage
to BBC Brewery and Restaurant, and pork chops and pork belly to Lillys.
Fritschner helped orchestrate these weekly sales.
The second category to fall under the program would be a larger
fix to the system, she said. Fritschner is working
with Jefferson County Public Schools to incorporate more local food
into their meal and snack programs.
So far, they have purchased some squash for breakfast muffins
and figured out that they can use 540 pounds of zucchini per week to
make muffins. That product can be frozen, so its promising for
next year, she said.
A planning meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 14 at the CB
Young Center, located at 3001 Crittenden Dr. (by the Kentucky State
Fair and Exposition Center) for all produce and fruit growers interested
in selling their locally grown products to the Jefferson County School
Ongoing talks are taking place with Louisville Originals, 40 independently
owned restaurants in the Louisville area.
In addition, she said, Were working with a produce aggregator-distributor
to begin a project that can help farmers grow, grade and sort their
products. The next step would involve finding markets for lesser
quality products that may include off-size or over-ripe produce; such
products might be appropriate for immediate use in catering businesses
The benefits of shopping a farmers market is knowing where your
food comes from, who produced it and how it was produced, said
Missun. I believe its also vital for consumers to understand
food production, and farmers markets are the best place to learn firsthand
The third category involves multiplying the solutions, Fritschner said.
A workshop is being planned to bring large-volume buyers in contact
with distributors, aggregators and others to support wholesale and large-volume
sales at affordable prices. Fritschner said the fourth category consists
of identifying barriers to progress.
She spent the winter months attempting to sell the idea of a corporate
CSA. The idea seemed a little too foreign for most corporations
to bite, but SHPS was interested in a farmers market, said Fritschner.
SHPS is a local health care company located on Bluegrass Parkway in
Louisville. A Trimble County farmer and a Shelby County farmer set up
a sort of mini market on site for about two hours at the end of the
day. SHPS is extremely supportive of this event; we consider them
Farmers markets are an integral part of the growing interest in
agritourism, Garrison said. In addition to fresh produce
and other farm products, many people are interested in the stories and
experiences of agricultural production. Community farmers markets provide
all of these attractions in one location.
Fritschner said there is a lot of potential for this program. I
have many, many future goals. One being the Institutional Food
Market meeting on Nov. 5 in partnership with Bellarmine University Center
for Regional Environmental Studies.
This meeting will include several panels to help business owners, such
as school food services, hospitals, universities and banquet facilities,
address barriers to buying local in their operations.
Its important for citizens to support local businesses and
farms in order to help their community thrive, Missun said.
The Louisville Farm to Table Program is the result of a study completed
by the Economic Development office. The program recommended expansion
of neighborhood farmers markets, and for the city of Louisville to aid
in serving as the connector between farmers and consumers.
For more information about the Louisville
Farm to Table Program, contact Sarah Fritschner at (502) 396-5457 or
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