2023 KY Local Food Systems Summit Speakers
Aleta Botts is a native of Menifee County and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She spent almost 10 years working on agricultural and other issues at the federal level as a policy staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. before returning to Kentucky in early 2011. When she returned to Kentucky she served as the Agricultural Policy Outreach Director for the University of Kentucky and oversaw the Grant Facilitation Program at the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD). From 2013-2022 she served as KCARD’s Executive Director. She farms with her family in Menifee County.
John Bell farms with his extended family at Elmwood Stock Farm in Scott County. A certified organic farm, Elmwood produces a diversity of produce, forages and grains as well as several species of livestock - nearly all of which is marketed to the local community. With the help of a great team of coworkers John oversees the crop production and looks after the cattle and pigs.
Michelle Howell is a full-time mother, farmer, and community organizer, collaborates with local and state partners to increase opportunities for farmers that are equitable and just. With an agriculture degree from WKU, Michelle has 25 years of local food experience including co-owning Need More Acres Farm with her husband Nathan, UK Extension, and Agribusiness management.
Travis Cleaver of Hodgenville has been farming since he could walk alongside his father. He always knew this was the life he wanted and loves. He currently farms in LaRue and Hart counties and is the owner of Cleav’s Family Market. Cleav’s Family Market offers vegetables, fruit, beef, pork and chicken for families across the state. He had a deep love for the land and animals. In his free time he enjoys reading and learning new techniques to better his practices. A lot of his practices came from the ideas of Booker T Whatley.
Steven Clem Lexington native Steven Clem is the Sales and Procurement Manager for Clem's Refrigerated Foods. This 3rd generation, 55 year old family business operates in the heart of Lexington as a thriving food distribution company and USDA inspected processing facility. Since his earliest days in the company as a child labor box maker, to his current leadership role, Steven had learned along side many family members in this multi generation shop. Under Steven's leadership Clem's continues to expand their initiatives working with Kentucky Proud product and producers. Clem's proudly serves all corners of the Commonwealth.
Kristin M. Smith is the Chef/Owner of The Wrigley Appalachian Eatery —a farm-to-fork restaurant in downtown Corbin, KY. Chef Smith is a celebrated foodways evangelist for Southeastern Kentucky that works with area farmers to create a sustainable, supportive economy. Kristin is also a sixth -generation cattle farmer, owner and operator of her family farm, Faulkner Bent Farm. Kristin was a featured chef with the James Beard Foundation Taste America 2019 as well as in multiple publications, most notably, Time Magazine, Food & Wine, Food Network, and Forbes.
Annie Woods joined the Organic Association of Kentucky in 2022 to adapt and trial a farm sustainability assessment tool for use on Kentucky farms. She also runs a diversified market garden in Northern Kentucky and has a background in landscape ecology and biological field research.
Shane Tedder - For the past 20 years, Shane has developed and managed interdisciplinary programs and policies with a focus on sustainability, transformational learning, and use of the campus as a living lab/classroom. In pursuit of these efforts, he has cultivated strong collaborations with colleagues in every corner of the University and community.
Jada Walker Griggs is a proud native of Cynthiana, KY. She was educated in the Harrison County Public School System and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Assets Protection with emphasis on Computer Security and her Master of Science degree in Loss Prevention and Safety from Eastern Kentucky University. Jada has been with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government for 22 years, of which, 14 years was spent in Risk, Safety and Loss Control Management and 8 years in the Division of Environmental Service. Her regulatory background led her to an Environmental Initiatives Specialist position with LFUCG. She currently serves as the Program Manager Senior leading Sustainability efforts for the City of Lexington-Fayette County.
Robert Eversole is a life-long Kentuckian with a passion for local food systems. After a decade of farming over 500 acres in Lexington, he realized that in order to have greater impact on KY agriculture, he had to leave the farm. He now works as the Director of Sustainability for UK Dining and is the sustainability champion for the Midwest Collegiate Hospitality region at Aramark. His passion lies in expanding market access for local agricultural products and helping farmers enter the institutional wholesale market space.
Kristin Hughes graduated from Valparaiso University with a Bachelor’s in Spanish and Business and earned her Master’s of Education from Georgetown College. She realized her passion for teaching food literacy while working as a Spanish teacher and joined FoodChain in 2019 as the Director of Education and Outreach. She currently chairs the Fayette County Farm to School Coalition and works with partner organizations to carry out the goals of Farm to School in schools across Fayette county.
As a Senior Manager on the LEED for Cities team at the U.S. Green Building Council, David Abell works directly with over 100 local governments to use data to benchmark sustainability and drive progress. Through developing relationships and training staff on the LEED for Cities framework David assists local leaders to create stakeholder coalitions, prioritize sustainability actions, and build essential cross-departmental relationships to achieve LEED certification. David also provides the local governments’ perspective to product developers, to ensure the rating system’s evolution meets the needs of cities and pushes them to meet their sustainability goals.
Ian Hester joined the Department of Agriculture in early 2022, where he leads 3 branches with 14 staff across the commonwealth. The division administers $75M in USDA food programs and impacts >1M Kentuckians through school nutrition programs, farmer’s markets, food banks and food pantries.
Kevin Peach administers multiple federal programs that provide food and administrative support to KY's network of food banks and pantries. He has more than 20 years of experience in providing food assistance to underserved populations.
Tina Garland administers the Farm to School, Chefs in Schools, Senior Farmers’ Market, and Junior Chef programs for the department. She has a passion for nurturing and strengthening local food systems across the state.
Andrew King Bartlett works locally and nationally to foster food justice and food sovereignty through his work with the Presbyterian Hunger Program and Food in Neighborhoods. He also serves on the board of the National Farm Worker Ministry and the Coordination of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance.
LeTicia Marshall is an urban farmer and activist, born and raised in rural Kentucky; she remembers doing chores on her grandparents farm, pay lake, and family-owned grocery store. LeTicia graduated with a Master of Science in Social Work from the Kent School and currently co-manages the Shively Farmers and Artisans Market.
Stephen Bartlett has been a food sovereignty advocate and a small-scale producer for decades, learning his farming mostly in the global south, particularly in the Dominican Republic. Stephen has engaged in urban ag education and collective production in Louisville for more than two decades. The org he directs SAL is collective guardian and solidarity distributor of an heirloom corn descended from Hickory King and Bloody Butcher, called Triple Rainbow, along with heirloom cowpeas. SAL also participates in local, national and international organizing food justice policy work.
Bethany Pratt works for UK Extension’s Nutrition Education Program in Louisville with a focus on supporting urban food systems. She is a long-time member of Food in Neighborhoods; co-facilitator of the Louisville Urban Agriculture Coalition and front yard farmer.
Christy Brady is an Assistant Professor in the College of Health Sciences and the Lewis Honors College at the University of Kentucky. Her primary teaching interests include the Health Care System, Social Determinants of Health, and Cultural Competence.
Tanya Whitehouse is Chef and Program Manager at the Food Connection, using local food demonstrations and hands-on cooking classes to educate students, staff, and the wider Kentucky community about local seasonal food and our vibrant local food system.
LaToya Drake joined the UK Cooperative Extension Service as an Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences and now serves as Marketing Program Coordinator for KYNEP. Her efforts engage non-traditional/diverse audiences across the state. She appreciates exposing folks to new foods and recipes with a special focus on eating and buying local.
Jackie Walters, RDN, works with the UK CES Nutrition Education Program. She has over thirty-eight years' experience serving limited resource audiences through nutrition education, public health, and school nutrition. She has partnered with KDA and KDE on Farm to School endeavors for over 12 years.
Alexis Sheffield has been the Boyle Co. Horticulture Agent for the past 10 years. In that time she has worked with farmers of all sizes and horticulture enterprises to grow and market their product. One enterprise that has formed over the years is the Wilderness Trail Farm Share, a multi-farmer CSA that has everything from veggies and meat to milk and bread.
Ashton Potter Wright is the Executive Director of The Food Connection–an applied local food systems development center–at the University of Kentucky.
Dave Van Sanford has been a wheat breeder and member of the Plant and Soil Sciences faculty at the University of Kentucky since 1981. His research interests include breeding improved high yielding, early maturing, disease resistant soft red winter wheat varieties adapted to Kentucky and the mid-south; breeding for climate resilience and nitrogen use efficiency; development of strong gluten wheat varieties that can be milled into flour to be used by local artisan bakers; and understanding the genetics and genomics of flavor such that flavorful small grain varieties can be developed for use by Kentucky’s bakers, distillers and brewers.
Sarah Halcomb comes from Walnut Grove Farms in Schochoh, Kentucky. The family produces wheat, barley, rye, corn and soybeans. Sarah is particularly interested in local grain value chains and specialty crops. In recent years, Sarah has worked with the University of Kentucky and regional bakeries to experiment with new varieties of wheat in this region. She has also attended other regional grain gatherings in the Carolina’s, Maine, and Washington State and found these groups to be exhilarating and inspirational. She is excited about the formation of the Ohio Valley Grain Exchange and the opportunities it has to bring to local stakeholders.
Barbara Hurt is the Executive Director of the Dendrifund, a unique seed fund that is part Brown-Forman, part Brown family, and part community experts working at the intersection of value and values. With 10 years experience in non-profit fundraising and 10 in for-profit marketing Brown-Forman brands, Barbara builds strategic connections and opportunities between the work of the Dendrifund on wood, water, and grains ecosystems, and the sustainability ambitions of businesses and communities to inspire joint action to improve the natural, social and economic environment for future generations.
Anna Haas is Local Food Program Director for What Chefs Want/Creation Gardens and its internal food hub, Local Food Connection (LFC). Anna’s 20-year career launched in local food via part-time work at farmers’ markets booths and in specialty crop vegetable production, and now focuses on a strategic leadership role building multi-state food distribution systems. She brings to her work additional leadership experience in non-profit management, professional education, community engagement, and fundraising.
Patricia Enriquez is the Director of Gourmet Purchasing with What Chefs Want in Louisville, Kentucky. With 25 years in the food industry and a purchasing background going back 30 years, she has had the opportunity to work with every type of vendor, from local dairy farmers to international chocolate producers. Her product knowledge covers a variety of gourmet items, like European and domestic artisan cheeses, Spanish olive oils, Japanese shoyu, as well as kitchen basics like grains and spices.