Few will argue sustainable food systems are a bad thing. It’s the implementation that’s the hard part. Time, space and money are just a few of the basic obstacles in the way of creating and maintaining a garden or farm, especially in an urban environment. But these challenges haven’t held back a number of organizations and people throughout Louisville from making major contributions to a growing agriculture scene. From inspiring residents to grow their own small backyard gardens, to completely reinventing vacant lots, the organizations below are leading Louisville’s urban agriculture movement.
Lots of Food
Louisville’s vacant lots are being tackled with shovels and compost thanks to Lots of Food. Starting at the end of 2013, it continues to transform what were once five unused plots of land into a 1/3 acre market garden and orchard. The goal is to bring new life and energy to neighborhoods throughout Louisville and to inspire others to do the same in other communities.
Through workshops, community tastings and actual plantings, Lots of Foods is restoring the Portland neighborhood. Similar projects are being implemented throughout the area to restore the hundreds of lots that remain vacant in Louisville.
Since 2009, Louisville Grows has worked with local organizations and city officials to assist in sustainability efforts. Some of their biggest contributions stem from an emphasis on aiding local residents to start their own gardens and plant trees. The focus on urban agriculture and forestry help build more self-reliant neighborhoods within the Louisville area.
The organization holds events to educate children (and their parents) about the importance of developing their own gardens and the steps needed to do so. Louisville Grows also helps develop the youth through summer employment opportunities with Advocacy In Action.
Sustainable Agriculture of Louisville
Developing the next generation of farmers in Louisville is the backbone of Sustainable Agriculture of Louisville (SAL). The group looks to build a prideful, diverse community of well-nourished people and well-compensated farmers. Education and empowerment are two of the major focuses of SAL.
The community organization holds group potlucks full of locally grown food, plants crops that will thrive in Louisville’s climate and even makes their own fresh tortillas. Gardening day camps, field trips to farms and training programs for aspiring farmers demonstrate SAL’s ability to reach a diverse set of people.
Quite simply, it’s living up to its name. 15Thousand Farmers seeks to create and inspire fifteen thousand new farmers in Louisville. They provide instructions, checklists and materials for people to make the transformation to start growing through a 4′ x 4′ box. The process has proven to ignite the passion in many residents, proving that’s its possible for just about anyone to soil, plant and grow a garden.
The simple but rewarding process is backed by workshops and events. A growing number of individuals are now feeding their families and themselves with food they grew on their own land.
Food in Neighborhoods Community Coalition
The food system in Louisville is undoubtedly improving, which can’t be done without cohesion. The Food in Neighborhoods Community Coalition (FIN) has helped unite local communities in building a more equitable, healthy and sustainable food and farm system. The Coalition ensures current initiatives are communicated and a constant dialogue is in place to maintain and progress sustainability in the area. This helps individuals and groups collaborate.
In a sense, FIN is the voice shaping the food system in Louisville. Tools like a consistently updated map of Louisville’s gardens represent this.
Fresh food is a human right says New Roots, a nonprofit aiming to provide everyone in the Louisville access to just that. This is accomplished largely through Fresh Stop Markets, defined as “a cross between a fruit and vegetable flash mob and a family reunion.” Families pool their money and SNAP benefits to buy produce in bulk from local farmers on a sliding scale. Each family receives a “share” of the seasonal items which is picked up on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.
New Roots operated ten Fresh Stop Markets in Kentucky in the 2015 growing season, in addition to mentoring one in Washington, D.C and Indiana.
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