CFA leaders through the Agriculture Legacy Initiative are leading the way to create a pathway to the land for Kentucky’s next generation of family farmers and last Wednesday was a huge first step towards realizing their mission. The first of many field days to come was hosted at UK’s Horticulture Research Farm and it was a true testament to the incredible energy brewing across the state to preserving Kentucky’s agriculture legacy. Over 80 people attended from all over the state to take part in fellowship, workshops, a farm fresh potluck and hear from over 5 presenters about research and resources for beginning farmers. CFA leader, Ben Abell from UK’s Sustainable Agriculture Program was the honorable host and provided guests with fresh pork from Marksbury farms and organized UK interns who prepared fresh veggies picked straight off the UK farm. Additionally, Tiffany Thompson (the farm’s CSA manager) gave a tour of the fields and Krista Jacobson gave the high tunnel workshop to educate on extending the growing season, which has become increasing important as Farm to School becomes a more viable market for farmers.
Carolyn Gahn, Adam Barr, Mike Lewis and Lily Breslin, Agriculture Legacy leaders, also helped make this event a huge success. Lily presented her master thesis research on beginning farmers that included a snapshot of the farmers, farm operations and resource needs. Carolyn and Adam gave the compelling stories of how they became involved in CFA and outlined the mission and five year work plan of the Agriculture Legacy Initiative, which includes: Building farmer capacity, Building public, private and governmental institution support and Building CFA’s capacity to support beginning farmers. Action steps include creating an online resource site and CFA’s beginning farmer leaders advocate that the field days like last Wednesday’s are “the backbone of the Agriculture Legacy Initiative,” so organizing more of them across the state is a key part of their work plan.
Mike Lewis (Berea Farmers Market President) presented on a new program that will help create a pathway to agriculture for veterans by providing training, mentorship and marketing resources. As we all sat in the greenhouse shelter, protected from the roaring storm outdoors, Mike only had to give us three sentences, “I’m Mike Lewis. I’m a Veteran. And I’m a Farmer,” and we knew how passionate he is about recruiting veterans as part of the next generation of farmers.
In addition to ALI’s beginning farmer leaders, UK and KSU presented about resources they provide such as UK’s Farm Start Program and KSU’s new mini-grant opportunity (funded by the Agriculture Development Fund) to help small scale farmers.
Last Wednesday’s event proves that there is strength in numbers and as ALI moves forward, field days will provide the space needed for fellowship and skill building between farmers across the state. Through this success, leadership from CFA’s Agriculture Legacy Initiative along with key partners from UK and KSU demonstrated their dedication to sustaining Kentucky’s food system through the development of confident, educated and experienced new farmers.
The ALI group is now looking for more leaders to help accomplish their five year work plans. You could become a CFA member or join one of the four ALI committees to get involved today! Contact Heather (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Alexa (email@example.com) today to join one of these committees:
- -Steering Committee
- -Land Link Committee
- -Communications Committee
- -Field Day Event Planning Committee
Also, check out these links to information provided at the Field Day.
- Dr. Krista Jacobsen’s high tunnel lecture and Lily Brislen’s beginning farmer survey results: (firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com).
- To learn more about UK’s CSA program, visit their website (http://www2.ca.uky.edu/
sustainableag/csa) which includes links to the blog, contact information, and general info about how their CSA works.
- Visit www.kysu.edu/CAFSSS for more information on the mini-grant opportunities for small scale farmers being administered through KSU.
- Information on the Kentucky FarmStart program can be found at http://www.ca.uky.edu/
Upcoming Field Days:
- October 6th: Heirloom Seed Exchange at Bill Best’s Family Farm. This Field Day will be strictly for those interested in learning about heirloom seeds or those already growing heirlooms. Best Family Farms is located at 1033 Pilot Knob Cemetery Rd, Berea, KY 40403 in Madison County.
- October 13th: Barr Farms Field Day. Barr Farms is located at 2440 Popham Road, Rhodelia, KY 40161 in Meade County. The Field Day will run from 4pm – 7pm and will include a farm tour and potluck dinner. Stick around for a bonfire after dinner and bring camping gear if you’re interested in pitching a tent.