Lessons from the Lafayette Seminar on Public Issues
Four wise, smart, savvy people spoke at From Whose Farm To Whose Table?, the second session of the 2014 Lafayette Seminar on Public Issues, hosted by the University of Kentucky Gaines Center for the Humanities and co-sponsored by the Blue Grass Community Foundation, The Food Connection at UK, the UK College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, and American Farmland Trust.
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Karyn Moskowitz, founder of Louisville's New Roots and Fresh Stop Project, described practical structures she and community members have used to build relationships between people who lack good food access and farmers who want to grow that food and sell it to eager eaters. Andre Barbour, a Hart County farmer who is grows food for the Louisville projects, attended with his uncle, one of five family members who work together on the Barbour farm. Karyn also described a just-launched Veggie RX program, funded by the Humana Foundation. Doctors in Louisville can now prescribe a CSA share of fresh, locally grown food as part of the healing therapy for a person or family with health issues.
Jim Embry, director of Sustainable Communities Network, called for attention to eating as an ecological act. He described food as sacred, and urged more focus on women's well-being and health, since women are the first food providers, a role many women sustain through life. Jim also suggested Kentucky communities cultivate gardens with immigrants and refugees, many of whom have farming skills and can grow foods that belong in their home cuisines.
Mac Stone, farmer at Elmwood Stock Farm, chair of the board of the Lexington Farmers Market, and former chair of the National Organic Standards Board, asked that food buyers consider what it costs to grow excellent food, and, if possible, step up to pay the actual costs, rather than wishing good food cost the same as cheap food. He pointed out the connections between good food and good health, and suggested that commitment to the time required for growing, buying, and cooking good food brings rewards that make it worth the time and money.
Ashton Potter Wright, Lexington's local food coordinator, described the initiatives already underway in Lexington—including four Fresh Stops—to make good food available to people who need it and find it too expensive or inaccessible. She also pointed to potential areas for growth in Lexington, including raising money to institute "Double Dollars" cash matches (like this program), boosting the buying capacity of people receiving limited assistance for their food purchases.
From four different points of view on building a food system that feeds everyone well and pays farmers fairly—interesting and useful. Each person also named one or more next steps in their own work that communities and individuals can support. More on that later!