LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 5, 2019) — As described by one very pleased attendee, the first local food summit hosted recently by The Food Connection at the University of Kentucky delivered, “140 participants, 34 speakers, three outstanding local restaurants, and one amazing day for learning and connecting with farm and food enthusiasts.”
The organizing committee for the event consisted of representatives from The Food Connection, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s Bluegrass Farm to Table initiative and leadership convener Bluegrass Tomorrow. The collaborative goals of this one-day conference were realized as the university, local government and a community-based organization were at the table together.
“Our hope in planning this gathering was to create a space to think about the bigger picture for people who share the same interest, building a resilient and regenerative farm and food system for Kentucky, but who work in different areas of our food system.” said Lilian Brislen, executive director of The Food Connection. “We were excited to see what could happen when, for instance, a registered dietitian and an advocate for beginning farmers had a chance to talk shop. Based on what we saw and heard, there were some pretty magical and unexpected connections that materialized, and I’m really looking forward to what comes next.”
Conference sessions fell into the areas of research, programs and best practices, foundational knowledge and roundtable discussions, spanning the main areas of agriculture, market development, community nutrition, and policy.
Speakers included representatives from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, community-based organizations, researchers, UK Cooperative Extension professionals, managers of farmers markets, K-12 school dining directors and farmers sharing their firsthand experience.
“Through this kind of collaborative enterprise, we hope to foster a statewide common vision and develop strategies to ultimately provide a vibrant and sustainable food system in Kentucky,” Brislen said.