Kentucky Local Food Systems Summit

Kentucky Local Food Systems Summit

6th Annual

Kentucky Local Food Systems Summit

March 20, 2024  |  University of Kentucky

The Food Connection at the University of Kentucky, in partnership with the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, invite you to join in a full day of workshops, networking, and conversations designed to bring together local food professionals and advocates who work on the front lines of growing our local food and farm economy. The Summit will bring together local food systems practitioners from across Kentucky to share challenges, opportunities, best practices, and build capacity for our local/regional food economy.


Meet our 2024 Speakers

 Agenda  2024 

Array of produce

Thank you to our 2024 Sponsors!

Tallgrass    UKDHN    UKDining   KY Proud    KAC    FCMA

HPM    AFT    FCFB    clem

2024 Schedule of Events

Join us for coffee and early networking as you get checked in for the Summit.

Aligning Local Agriculture with Food as/is Medicine/Health Initiatives

Moderator: Krista Jacobsen


Michelle Howell, Need More Acres

Dalla Emerson, Bowling Green Independent Schools

Martin Richards, Community Farm Alliance

Alison Gustafson, UK Food As Health Alliance

Cultivating Equity + Access: It’s a SNAP to Diversify Your Customer Base
Jann Knappage, LaToya Drake, Michelle West, Bethany Pratt
(Recruiting Room)

Kentuckians who are eligible for federal food benefits programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) can spend food benefits dollars with local farms and farmers' markets. The University of Kentucky Nutrition Education Program (NEP) has a wide variety of resources for farmers, markets and institutional buyers who are interested in increasing their customer base to include people who are SNAP-eligible. In this session, members of the NEP team will review resources that are publicly available to support farmers, farmers’ markets, and institutional buyers to make their spaces more welcoming to limited-resource Kentuckians and capture more available dollars for local foods programs and businesses.

Uplifting Voices and Catalyzing Change: Moving the Movement: Ideas + Infrastructure Needed to Institutionalize Cultural + Systems-Level Change
Mary Berry, Beth Douglas, Leah Bayens, Anna Haas, Lewis Hughes
(Press Room)

Great strides have been made in the local food movement, and we have learned a lot, but what educational and infrastructure elements are holding the movement back? This session will explore the complexity of scaling and streamlining local food into mainstream distribution channels and how we move beyond a movement to create cultural and systems level change.

Lessons From the Field: Local Food Purchase Assistance Program and Local Food For Schools
Lynsey Crumbie, Kacy McLean-Hillard, Leandra Forman, Amber Fuller, Jacob & Megan Sharpe, Marlin Gerber, Sarah Vaughn, Danielle Bozarth, Lewis Hughes, Birch Bragg, Zeldon Angel
(Field Room)

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has received two USDA grants to expand and strengthen the state’s supply chain resiliency, marketing opportunities for producers and access to local, nutritious foods for our communities through the Local Food Purchase Assistance (LFPA) and Local Food for Schools (LFS) grant programs. This session will showcase the financial and community impacts of these funds, and how you may be able to expand the reach of the program as a supporter or organization with producer connections. Also, hear from some of the agencies, farmers, and recipients who have been implementing these programs on the ground.

Join us for our Keynote speaker session with Crystal Wilkinson and Ouita Michel as they share a conversation around Uplifting Food Stories and enjoy a locally sourced lunch.

During this time, you will also be able to view poster sessions by students and community members.

Cultivating Equity + Access: Centering Equity and Resiliency: Amplifying the Voices of Kentucky Led Partnerships to Reimagine the National Food System Movement
Mya Price, Ashley Smith, Danielle Bozarth, Dominique Brown
(Recruiting Room)

Critical initiatives are underway across the Feeding America network and local food system space to develop mutually supportive relationships between food banks and local and systemically marginalized farmers and producers. This session will showcase innovative and impactful partnerships that are being leveraged through Feeding America’s Food Security Equity Impact Fund (FSEIF), which currently supports 35 food bank network members and more than 75 people of BIPOC-centered and led community partner organizations nationwide. The Fund advances community-driven solutions to remove systemic barriers to food security and increase neighbors’ access to nutritious and culturally preferred foods. As part of the Funds’ movement, Feeding America is honored to help support Black Soil KY in partnership with God’s Pantry Food Bank. During this interactive session, you will hear initiative highlights elevated by Black Soil KY and God’s Pantry Food Banks’ work as part of the Fund, as well as hearing key learnings and practices we are seeing at the national level that center equity and community-based practices and solutions. Following formal highlights, this conversation will then include a group discussion, which will allow us to generate potential solutions for policy changes at the local, state, and national levels.

Uplifting Voices and Catalyzing Change: Restaurants Aiming for Local: Evolving Opportunities, Persisting Challenges, Delicious Results
Ouita Michel, David Wagoner, Tyler McNabb
(Press Room)

Ouita, Tyler, and David share the story of over two decades of building a restaurant group, Holly Hill and Company, around the idea that the surest path from productive farms to a delicious meal is the shortest one. Following that mantra has flavored everything about Chef Ouita's life in, and beyond, the kitchen and has led ultimately to the Holly Hill restaurant locations featuring not just Ky ag products, but also ingredients grown right out the restaurant kitchen doors, grown and harvested by the locations' chefs themselves. Chef Ouita will tell of her foundational approach to prioritizing local food procurement, from the early days of running the Holly Hill Inn restaurant in Midway, Kentucky, up through the present management of her restaurant group now known collectively as Holly Hill and Company. Holly Hill and Co. Culinary Director, Chef Tyler McNabb will share his chef's perspective on seeking out and securing ingredients from local growers that are prepared and served in a wide range of restaurants, from full-service, white tablecloth, to casual diner/deli settings. Holly Hill Staff Farmer David Wagoner shares his experience, from the farmer's perspective, of growing for, and now, at, the Holly Hill and Co. restaurant locations. Finally, with so much still to learn and share in the Central Kentucky agricultural and culinary landscape, Ouita tells of the latest strategies for successfully reaching a growing number of customers, followers, and fans in a variety of ways, deliciously!

Lessons From the Field: FreshRX for Moms and Other Food Prescription Programs
Sandra Ballew-Barnes, Michelle Howell, Valerie Horn
(Field Room)

Learn about local food prescription programs offered in Kentucky and walk away with best practices for implementation from the lens of a farmer operating a CSA Program and a farmers’ market manager.

Join us for wonderful food and networking to close out the 6th Annual Summit!

Registration Info

For Cooperative Extension guests, Click here to register your KERS Credit. 

Registration is $95 per person. Registration includes Summit attendance, parking, all-day coffee, a locally sourced KY Proud lunch, and a networking reception (please bring your ID if you think you may have an alcoholic beverage at the reception).

Scholarships are available on an as-needed basis. For more information, please contact Dr. Ashton Potter Wright.

Brought to you by:

The 2024 Kentucky Local Food Systems Summit is brought to you by The Food Connection, the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Contact Information

Ashton Potter Wright
Director, The Food Connection

440 Hilltop Avenue Lexington, KY 40506