Congratulations to our 2013 Local Food Heroes!

Congratulations to our 2013 Local Food Heroes!

Congratulations to the 2013 Local Food Heroes:

Ramsi Kamar of Raising Hope Organic Farm, Jefferson County

Mike Lewis of Gaining Ground Farm, Rockcastle County

Clay Turner of Turner Valley Produce, Logan County

About the Local Food Hero Award:

Local Food Heroes Award is the brainchild of Seed Capital Kentucky, a nonprofit organization created to help catalyze the success and resilience of Kentucky’s regional agriculture and regional food economy. We partnered with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture KY Proud program and the City of Louisville to say  “thank you” to some of the people who make it possible for us to have delicious, fresh from the farm, locally grown food. This award recognizes and celebrates our local food heroes.

How we choose our heroes:

This year we focused on Kentucky farmers. Over 1450 farmers were listed on the Seed Capital KY website and the votes began rolling in from all across the commonwealth over a 16-day period. Nearly 2600 votes were cast. We received 175 comments from people about how much they love their farmers, and how much it means to them to be able to have access to beautiful food straight from the farm.

Our Partners and Collaborators:

We were delighted to partner with the KY Department of Agriculture and the City of Louisville, and especially honored to have  Commissioner Comer and Mayor Fischer  join us in honoring our Local Food Hereos. Commissioner Comer and Mayor Fisher are leaders in the nation on finding ways to bring together urban and rural residents. Commissioner Comer is an outspoken advocate for local food producers and for the need to continue to develop systems to get more local food to local people. Mayor Fischer has dedicated his time, resources and energy to growing the local food economy in Louisville and is taking a lead in the nation in this area.  We are inspired by Mayor Fisher and Commissioner Comer and grateful for their dedication and commitment to building bridges between Kentucky’s rural and urban communities.

Meet our 2013 Local Food Heroes:

 The top three vote-getters were chosen as the winners this year.  Between them they received almost 40% of all the votes cast in the contest, and they represent three distinct regions of the commonwealth.

Ramsi Kamar of Raising Hope Farm, a certified organic farm in Jefferson County..  Ramsi captures the very essence of Farm-to-Table as both a farm-owner and restaurateur. The produce from Raising Hope Organic Farm is picked and used in dishes at his Louisville restaurant, Ramsi’s Café on the World. A native of Jerusalem, Kamar has been in the United States since 1983. He has established a unique system with his dual businesses that is truly exemplary as a dynamic relationship between restaurant and farm; the  trimmings and scraps at the restaurant are returned to the farm to be composted, and then the compost returned to the fields, to enrich the largely clay soils on the farm. One of his voters commented:  “This couple makes delicious food and supports local business and art. Their fusion of a farm and restaurant is perfect and tasty.”

Mike Lewis is a veteran and a farmer, committed to increasing access to fresh, local, and nutritional food to our communities by mobilizing our nation’s veterans to produce it. He and his family run a small sustainable farming operation, Gaining Ground Farm, in Rockcastle and Madison Counties, where they raise pork and poultry, and grow an assortment of fresh produce. It is the first certified “Homegrown by Heroes” farm in the nation. Mike serves as the Veteran Outreach Coordinator for “Growing Warriors” a program to train, assist, and equip veteran families with the skills, tools, and supplies needed to grow high quality naturally grown produce for their families, their communities, and their country.  As one of his devotees stated on the website: “Mike has an initiative, foresight, and passion for farming that will carry over into future generations. He is an intelligent and caring individual who will always lead the land and the people to prosperity.”

Clay Turner, of Turner Valley Produce in Russellville, KY.  Turner Valley is a small farm and market offering sweet corn, tomatoes, squash, green beans, lima beans, zucchini, cabbage, cucumbers, okra, hot and sweet peppers, Irish and sweet potatoes, broccoli, greens, onions, peas, cantaloupe, watermelon, canary melons. Clay sells his produce from a roadside-stand at the entrance to his third-generation farm. He also sells twice a week at the Logan County Farmers’ Market at the UK Ag Complex. Additionally, Turner manages the Kentucky Wonders Garden Market in downtown Russellville, which provides easy access for people who either do not have transportation to get to the market on the outskirts of town, and for senior citizens.  A comment about Clay stated, “For many years, the Turner Family has provided our family with nutritional and economical produce during the summer months. When I am in town on Tuesday or Saturday in Russellville at the Farmer’s Market, it is the first vendor I head to. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication to serving your community.”

Look out for our “Local Food Hero” trading cards with information about each of the winners.  These will be available at local food-related events throughout the year to continue to raise awareness about local food and celebrate the winners.

Congratulations and thank you to our 2013 Local Food Heroes!  


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