Why is Louisville interested in supporting the local food economy? Local food is healthy food. Local food is produced close to home by farmers and entrepreneurs who live in our community. When you buy locally produced food, those dollars circulate locally, which is healthy for the economy. Local food travels fewer miles to get to your plate, which means it's healthier for the environment. Local food diversifies on-farm income, which means it's healthier for agriculture and the future of Kentucky's farm families. And local food unites us as a community, bridging rural and urban divides, which is healthy for the soul.
The Department of Economic Development is working hard to build a more robust local food system that can support the increased population, marketing, distribution and sales of Kentucky edible agriculture products and to meet the demand of Louisville's market for local foods.
The Local Food Economy Work Group, a collaboration of elected officials from Henry, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble Counties and the cities of Shelbyville and Louisville, started studying the issue of local food supply and demand in 2009.
The Department of Economic Development, working on behalf of The Local Food Economy Work Group, commissioned a Regional Farmers Market Feasibility Study, to understand what regional farmers needed in order to sell more local food in Louisville, and where local food was being sold.
The study recommended key elements needed to increase Kentucky farmers' share of Louisville's food market system. Specifically, the report called for a broker to create relationships and connect suppliers with consumers, which led to the creation of the Louisville Farm to Table program.
To learn more about the demand for local food in Louisville, the Department of Economic Development partnered with Seed Capital Kentucky, a Louisville non-profit organization, to study how much of Louisville's $2 billion annual food purchases were local. Karp Resources, a New York City-based food and agriculture consulting firm, designed, led and managed the Louisville Local Food Demand Analysis. The Analysis found that consumers and commercial buyers spend about $300 million annually on local food purchases, but were interested in buying more than double that amount of local food.