local food sourcing
The City of Lexington, Kentucky has initiated a new local foods program as part of its economic development efforts.
Tapped to manage this new initiative is Lexington native Ashton Potter Wright, who has served as local food coordinator for Mayor Jim Gray’s office since the first week of June.
Wright previously served as operations manager of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Child Care campaign, where she was able to network with people from around the country. She holds a doctorate in public health from the University of Kentucky and worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She also serves as president of the board for Lexington-based Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition.
“The position was in the works for three years or so,” says Wright. “It’s modeled after a similar position in Louisville, Kentucky.” Her territory includes not only Lexington, but also Lexington’s county, Fayette County.
Situated on the last few acres of a 140-year old family homestead, Everitt Farms hopes to serve as a platform for a local food district, returning a new Denver suburb to its old agricultural roots.
Located in Lakewood, Colorado, the farm is an urban agricultural experiment initiated by husband-and-wife team Derek and Kamise Mullen.
“We both have really wanted to do something like this for honestly, a good portion of our lives,” says Kamise Mullen. “It really wasn’t until we got married about four years ago that we actually started really growing food and trying to farm at all.”
Named after the first root to appear from a seed, Radicle Farm Company of New Jersey is rethinking the sustainable leafy greens concept. Through an aggregated network of local hydroponic farms, Radicle offers its living salad products to the wholesale and retail market.
“We want to be large,” says Christopher Washington, Managing Director of the company that started in 2013. “All the research that we’ve done has indicated that the consumer wants to support local product; it’s not really groundbreaking. What is groundbreaking is that companies that get the most traction are private brands in agriculture.”
“The reality is that there is just less water available for agriculture than there’s ever been. As you look to the future, the amount of food production that’s needed and the amount of water we’ll have to do it, is going to require that we grow the food with less water than we do today.”–Matt Liotta, PodPonics
Selling their tubs of mixed greens wholesale to major retailers such as Krogers, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market, PodPonics has become a name to know in the world of commercial-scale hydroponic produce.
The ‘grow local buy local’ movement has finally arrived in Wyoming, but informing Wyomingites about food justice, food deserts and the importance of locally produced organic food sources can be a challenge. Luckily, Jamie Purcell, Executive Director of the startup Wyoming Food for Thought Project, a 501 (c)3 founded in 2012, is facing the challenge head on and so far, it’s working.
After discovering a lifelong dream of becoming an architect didn’t live up to the reality, Purcell spent time in several nonprofits beginning with a year in the AmeriCorps program, living in poverty while assisting in summer programs for low income children.
“When you don’t work in poverty programs, it’s easy to assume everyone lives like you do,” says Purcell. “But the truth is, for a lot of people in our community, they live in poverty.”
Increasingly, food service directors and purchasing officers in schools, hospitals, and other institutions are being tasked with the mission of finding local producers of the food items they buy on a regular basis. They are doing this to support regional food systems, local economies, and the health of their constituents.
California’s San Luis Obispo County has a plethora of microclimates that enable farmers to produce a great variety of crops. Promoting a local food culture that takes advantage of that diversity and abundance is the mission of Central Coast Grown, a San Luis Obispo-based non-profit organization that strives to build awareness, production and consumption of locally grown food by conserving farmland and supporting young farmers and urban farming.
According to the organization’s executive director Jenna Smith, Central Coast Grown works to conserve land currently in agricultural production, as well as to educate the public about food and its origins.
“We want the sustainable agriculture movement to grow in San Luis Obispo County,” Smith says. “Agriculture is the top industry in the county. We want to promote local food literacy among the community.”
Across the country, small-scale local and sustainable food enterprises are emerging: urban farms, food hubs, community gardens, and more. All of these operations, however small, help create a new, more localized agricultural paradigm. But in order to overhaul our entire food system, President and Co-founder of The Food Commons Larry Yee says we need to think much bigger.
“Our overall objective is to demonstrate a whole new food system for local and regional food,” said Yee. “I don’t know of anyone else who is actually trying to create a whole system with all the necessary infrastructure for a highly effective, efficient local food system. There are people who are working on pieces of it, but we were crazy enough to try to tackle the whole thing.”