Floyd County CFA Members Lead By Example and Make the Case for Local Food in EKY

A great article from our friends at the Community Farm Alliance: 

After months of planning and planting, the Floyd County Farmers Market opened for business on July 14th.  There was a great turn out on opening day.  Tables were filled with local meats, fresh raw honey and beautiful, locally grown produce, more often than not of the heirloom variety.  CFA member and Floyd County Market Manager, Todd Howard’s hours of hard work organizing a new vision and spirit for this market are clearly evident by the consistent rush of Floyd/South Magoffin County residents.  The Floyd County Farmers’ Market is located in the heart of downtown Prestonsburg.  Through a partnership with the city, market vendors set up under a covered pavilion.

What sets this market aside from other rural farmers’ markets in Eastern Kentucky is the combination of Todd’s strong leadership and the dedicated community support, in particular from members of Appalachian Roots, a coalition of Kentuckians dedicated to bringing food self-reliance to the region.  Appalachian Roots aims to develop a local foods system where producers and markets work together to bring fresh, local produce to the citizens of Floyd/South Magoffin counties and likewise, they hope to raise awareness and educate their friends and neighbors about the availability of local produce.  At the center of all of this is the Floyd County Farmers’ Market, where Appalachian Roots members communicate with producers and consumers alike and begin to chart the course for bringing them all together. 
The local food landscape in Floyd County is exemplary of other communities CFA is reaching out to in Eastern Kentucky.  CFA members in Madison County, Laurel County, Whitley County and Elliot County have all expressed desires to pursue local food system development issues within their communities and the starting point, just as it was in Floyd County, begins with lifting up their farmers’ markets, where the production, consumption and distribution of fresh, healthy food is the focus.  Many of these communities have also identified the need to conduct Community Food Systems Assessments with goals such as illustrating strengths and weaknesses in their local food system, identifying opportunities for growth and development and to produce a report that can be used to educate community members and decision makers to encourage the development of a vibrant local food system.
CFA continues to serve as the state-wide vehicle to bring local food system and agriculture initiatives together and these efforts do not fall short for Eastern Kentucky.  The Eastern Kentucky Food System Collaborative, which initially began as a project of CFA, MACED and the UK Appalachian Center, is regaining momentum after a several month long hiatus.  The Collaborative serves as a regional network for organizations, institutions, and individuals from a variety of interests – farmers, health professionals, academics, advocates, Extension agents and more.  This network recognizes the importance of place, culture and tradition in building a regional food system in Eastern Kentucky.  Through CFA members’ leadership, the Eastern Kentucky Food System Collaborative continues to build momentum and place the goals and visions of individual communities into a regional context.
For those in Eastern Kentucky who are interested in getting involved with the Eastern Kentucky Food System Collaborative, send an email to Alexa (alexa@cfaky.org), visit the website (appalfoods.org) and join friends and neighbors at the next gathering on Thursday, August 23rd from 10am – 4pm at the Knott County Extension Office.