2013 Local Heroes

May 01, 2013
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Local Hero

Last fall, we asked readers to vote for the farm, restaurant, food artisan, and non-profit organization who, they felt, are making a major contribution to our local food commuity. Hundreds of votes were cast for numerous businesses, farms and organizations. Here we present the winners and salute their outstanding achievements.

Rainbow Blossom
Photo: Kreich-Higdon Photography

Food Shop: 
Rainbow Blossom

Q: What is Rainbow Blossom?

A: Rainbow Blossom has been a leader in the natural foods movement, raising awareness of the value of healthy food for our bodies and the environment. We were a community resource for natural and organic options when they weren’t available anywhere else, and our vision helped pave the way for a healthier community — we truly are Louisville’s Original Health Food Store. After 36 years in business we continue to strive to represent compassion, integrity and consciousness in the community and have grown to five locations. Deeply rooted in the community, we also carry products from nearly 100 local producers, and offer a weekly farmers’ market outside the St. Matthews market on Sundays from noon to 4pm, June–October.

Q: Why did you start the operation?

A: Rainbow Blossom Natural Food Markets was founded in 1977 by Rob and Pumpkin Auerbach. After doing extensive traveling on the West Coast, they returned to Louisville to find that there wasn’t a single place in town to buy natural, unprocessed food. Together they opened the first Rainbow Blossom, which began as a natural food restaurant with a store connected to it, in St. Matthews.

Q: Plans for the near future?

A: We are interested in opening our first store in the South End sometime in the next year.

Blue Dog Bread
Photo: John Nationedible

Food/Beverage Artisan: 
Blue Dog Bread

Q: What is Blue Dog?

A: Blue Dog is an artisan bread made to be eaten on the day it is purchased. We spend 24 to 48 hours to handcraft each loaf, developing flavor, crust and crumb. We use no preservatives and most contain no added fats or sugars. Our bread is baked daily at our Frankfort Avenue bakery. We also deliver daily to several local retailers and restaurants. Recently, we forged a partnership with Wildwood Farm, where we are raising two heritage breeds of pig — the Red Wattle and the Mulefoot. Since Bob ministers to their needs on a daily basis, we are confident our animals receive the care and respect they deserve. The house-cured salami, bacon and artisanal ham on our Cafe’s sandwich menu reflect our passion for quality pork.

Q: Why did you start the operation?

A: We moved back to Louisville in 1996, and spent almost two years searching for the ideal location for our bakery. When 2868 Frankfort Ave. became available, we felt like we had found the perfect spot in Crescent Hill.

Q: Plans for the near future?

A: We hope to extend our daily hours at the bakery to 7pm in the near future. We have also hired an organic farmer to raise our produce. We hope to have a bumper crop that will allow us to have a sidewalk farmers’ market this summer.

Field Day Family Farm / Ivor Chodkowski
Photo: Michael Parker

Farm/Farmer: 
Field Day Family Farm/Ivor Chodkowski

Q: What is Field Day Family Farm?

A: It is a 17-year-old farming operation in ’its third and longest location in the Louisville area at Oxmoor Farm. Its 30-some-odd acres include 10 acres of assorted. vegetables, 10 acres of black beans and 10 acres of field corn or other legume, in rotation. Field Day is also in its ninth year of hosting apprentices, many of whom have gone on to farm on their own in the region. The farm sells at the Bardstown Road Farmers’ Market and at the St. Matthews Farmers’ Market, runs a CSA and sells to area stores and restaurants, including Harvest and Grasshoppers Distribution.

Q: Why did you start the operation?

A: I started the farm because of idealism and a sense of opportunity. At the time, I didn’t realize how extraordinarily challenging … and rewarding a life of agriculture would be. I also really thought I could help make change happen. If I’ve done that mostly by encouraging other young people to farm, then I think I’ve realized, at least, some modicum of success. My sense of today, though, is that change in the food system is developing what my graduate school likes to call “an aura of inevitability,” mostly because so many more people have become aware and involved in helping to move the development of the food system forward.

Q: Plans for the near future?

A: My plan for now, for all of my ventures, is to make them as sustainable economically as they are socially and environmentally. If there are ways that I can help move the ball forward in the food system by encouraging appropriate public policy, then I would like to do that as well.

Coby Ming / Harvest
Photo courtesy of Harvestedible

Chef/Restaurant: 
Coby Ming/Harvest

Q: What is Harvest?

A: Our philosophy is very simple: to produce outstanding, regionally inspired, seasonal cuisine from the freshest and finest local produce in a casual fine-dining setting. We are very passionate about this and are truly grateful to the community for supporting our locally grown “farm-to-table” vision. We pledge to source at least 80% of our food from farmers and growers within a 100-mile radius of the city. These are not just ordinary farmers… these are people who we consider custodians of the countryside, people who are committed to sustainable farming practices and impeccable standards of animal welfare.

Q: How did the restaurant get started?

A: Farmer Ivor Chodkowski and partners Peter and Patrick Kuhl were no strangers to providing good food. At the Bardstown Road Farmers’ Market (which Chodkowski helped launch), they had fans weekly lined up for their omelets filled with farm-fresh ingredients. As discussions evolved, the founding partners, which also included Jim McArthur, assembled a group of nearly 20 local investors — a group whose individual investments are matched by their commitment to supporting family-scale agriculture, improved health, creating jobs and offering great food. Once the vision was established, they tapped the talented Chef Coby Lee Ming to create Harvest’s “Rustic Regional” cuisine.

Q: Plans for the near future?

A: We are looking forward to expanding our catering efforts and, we hope, in the not too distant future, that we will also be able to provide people with in-house private dining opportunities.

Community Farm Alliance
Community Farm Alliance

Nonprofit Organization: 
Community Farm Alliance

Q: What is Community Farm Alliance?

A: CFA is a statewide grassroots membership organization dedicated to helping people collectively find their own voices, recognize their power and solve their own problems through community organizing and leadership development.

Q: How did it get started?

A: CFA members trace their roots back to the farm credit crisis of the 1980s, when a group of Kentucky tobacco and dairy farmers set up a suicide hotline to help other farmers faced with losing their farms. This was the fallout of Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz’s industrial-agriculture- driven policy of “get big or get out!” Those farmers concluded that the problem wasn’t “on the farm” but was bad public policy—and if public policy was going to affect their farms and their children’s future, they wanted to have a voice in public policy.

In 1985 Community Farm Alliance was formed to bring a critical public voice to policy makers and has worked steadfastly for 27 years to support Kentucky’s family farmers and the rural and urban communities that depend upon them.

Q: What have you accomplished?

A: Since 1985 CFA’s members have consistently led victorious grassroots campaigns to pass or defeat 21 pieces of legislations in Kentucky, including seven in the last seven years in support of those goals, including shaping the passage of HB 611 and the creation of the Kentucky Ag Diversification Fund that dedicated $1.7 billion over 25 years and a long-term commitment to diversifying and rebuilding Kentucky’s rural communities. In creating a vision for Kentucky agriculture beyond tobacco, CFA members saw local food systems as the best opportunity to maintain family- scale agriculture and rural communities. Through model market development, such as four inner-city, low-income farmers’ markets in Louisville and the Bath County Farm to Community Demonstration Project, CFA members have learned firsthand that local food systems have a great potential for creating jobs, improving health through better nutrition and alleviating poverty. CFA was founded largely because of social and economic injustices, and though inner city and rural communities may physically look different, their root causes of socio-political marginalization and under-representation are the same. For the past decade food justice, access and security have been an integral part of CFA’s work to support good family farm policy but also good food policy.

Q: Plans for the near future?

A: Today CFA continues to work on creating good overall farm policy with special attention to food policy because of its broad impact. Kentucky has made great strides in local food system creation over the last decade with its resource support for existing farmers but two important challenges remain: Kentucky is woefully lacking in local and regional market development outside of Louisville; and Kentucky is losing farmers faster than we are creating new ones.

As a result of these two challenges, CFA members are focused on rural market development, including how programs such as SNAP, WIC and school nutrition programs can support Kentucky farmers and make local foods more accessible. CFA members have also created the Agriculture Legacy Initiative (ALI) to specifically create a holistic system and network of beginning farmers and landowners that creates a “pathway to the land” for Kentucky’s next generation of family farmers.

Community Farm Alliance’s success and strength is dependent upon its membership. We invite anyone who believes in the family farm, Kentucky’s farm heritage and enjoys what Kentucky’s farmers “bring to the table” to become a CFA member.

Article from Edible Louisville & the Bluegrass at http://ediblelouisville.ediblecommunities.com/food-thought/2013-local-heroes
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