Growing healthy markets: healthy farms, healthy food project

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2007: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Donald Van Erden
Community Farm Alliance
Elizabeth Ledford
Community Farm Alliance


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: demonstration
  • Farm Business Management: marketing management, new enterprise development
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems

    Proposal abstract:

    CFA members will expand our institutional buying demonstration project for farmers that represents a successful marketing strategy for rural counties, builds a market for the Agricultural Education and Marketing Center in Bath County, provides fresh healthy food to Kentucky school children, and provides additional income to local farmers. By developing a diversified and stable market for Kentucky farmers this project will facilitate new entrepreneurial and value added activities. Kentucky farmers have historically depended on the stable income provided by Burley tobacco, but that crop and the program that made it profitable now belong to a bygone era. Community Farm Alliance members responded to this crisis in 2000 by advocating for the expenditure of tobacco settlement funds for diversification, new farm enterprises and new markets and by advocating for local buying legislation. CFA has been a catalyst for instigating some of the most significant economic development strategies required by the loss of tobacco. While members have been successful on the urban front, rural counties too far away from Lexington or Louisville to do direct marketing are in dire need of successful strategies. CFA members envisioned and helped write local buying legislation, House Bill 669, which was passed by the Kentucky Legislature in 2006, requiring state agencies to purchase local agricultural products, making the State Park’s local buying program permanent and broadening the program to other state institutions as well. Especially in rural areas, State Parks can give farmers the summer market that school systems do not provide and school systems can provide the year round market that the state parks do not provide in their off season. Bath County built a regional marketing and processing center with tobacco settlement money that includes a community kitchen and processing, cooling and storage facilities for distribution of local farm products. Four state parks participating in the State Parks ‘buy local’ program are within 65 miles of the center. Kentucky State Parks served over a million meals in 2007. This presents an opportunity to develop the market infrastructure necessary to assist farmers and fully utilize this facility. The logistical challenges presented by developing a local food infrastructure for a cooperative institutional market in rural Bath County are not very different than the challenges faced in many other parts of the state. Farmers remote from urban centers need local marketing and value added options to provide a reliable income. A successful demonstration program will help farmers in Bath and Fleming counties create such a market and provide practical information for farmers in other rural areas to develop similar projects.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Continue and expand the model institutional buying demonstration project to include two county school systems and four state parks. Double the number of farmers to twenty participating in the project, producing quality food for local markets and customers without an intensive investment in the amount of land or capital, and receiving additional income of at least $5,000. The project will combine the State Park’s local buying program with farm to school markets to create a nine-month market for local farmers utilizing facilities and services at the Bath County Agricultural Education and Marketing Center.

    Five new value-added farm product ventures to provide additional income for farmers and food products for the schools and /or parks.

    Create a how to handbook containing all of the model demonstration project materials and make it available to assist other farmers and communities in creating institutional and farm to school markets.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.