Kentucky Ag News
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer speaks at the launch of the Kentucky Proud Farm to Campus Program April 15 at the Eastern Kentucky University bookstore. (Photo by Chris Aldridge)
Kentucky Proud Farm to Campus program builds on universities'
By CHRIS ALDRIDGE, Kentucky Agricultural News
University of Louisville
At UofL, 23.7 percent of the university’s food-related purchases totaling $464,879 came from local farms and businesses located within a 250-mile radius of the Louisville campus from July 2012 through February 2013.
“For an urban institution, we are quite proud of our results,” said Mitchell Payne, associate vice president for business affairs.
UofL opened a special section to sell Kentucky Proud items in the bookstore at its main Belknap Campus three years ago. The university also sells Kentucky Proud products in its Health Science Campus in downtown Louisville and promotes the products during campus events. UofL’s best-selling Kentucky Proud item is Ale-8-One salsa.
“Overall, the Kentucky Proud products have sold fairly well,” Payne said, noting that sales are somewhat cyclical. “We tend to do better with them during the summer orientation sessions when our visitor traffic is higher, and again during December as people are looking for unique gifts for the holidays. We have made an effort to rotate our product selection so that we have new options available while keeping some of our better-selling items in stock.”
Louisville also features local produce, when in season, in its all-you-care-to-eat dining hall, Ville Grill, as well as convenience store locations across the main campus.
UofL Dining Services lists 13 Kentucky Proud farms and businesses as local sources supported by the university. They include: Kentucky Honey Farms and Weisenberger Mills in Midway; Bourbon Barrel Foods, Heine Brothers Coffee, and Dean Milk in Louisville; Dutch Creek Farm in Pleasureville; Courtney Farms in Bagdad; Habbegger’s Amish Market in Scottsville; Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese in Austin; Klosterman Baking Co. in Lexington; Prairie Farms in London; and Marksbury Farm Market in Lancaster.
Marksbury’s local, grass-fed beef is served at Ville Grill in a pilot program in which the chef is incorporating all cuts into the menu to enable the purchase of the whole animal while exposing students to variety and flavors. UofL’s Dining Services’ partner, Sodexo, has been buying one wholesale beef per week during the spring semester.
“We are always looking for ways to expand the program to better serve and educate our students on sustainability and community issues,” Payne said. “The combined direct farm impact, as well as the food quality and educational impact to students, are very exciting.”
UofL’s biggest Kentucky Proud vendor from July to February was Heine Brothers at $90,505.
“Summer brings with it, as always, a swell of available options, which we feature heavily at our new student orientations to stress the importance of Kentucky Proud as soon as they become Cardinals,” Payne said.
UofL held its fifth annual Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Information Fair April 15. Students were invited to meet with local farmers and purchase CSA shares for a weekly basket of produce delivered to the University Club parking lot on the main campus.
“The student body has a lot to be excited about in the coming year as far as Kentucky Proud products go,” said Lauren Mashburn, a senior at Centre.
Mashburn said Centre has been very active in responding to campus requests for local food. All of Centre’s milk is Kentucky Proud from Prairie Farms/Southern Belle Dairy. As part of Sysco's Farm to Table Program, Centre has easy access to local honey, meats, vegetables, milk, cheese, and other dairy products from Kentucky Proud brands such as Grow Farms in Louisville, Hosey Honey in Midway, Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese, and Marksbury Farm Market.
“Centre Dining has also reached out to other markets outside of their Sysco alliance for Kentucky Proud product,” Mashburn said.
Centre Dining uses Kentucky Proud products prominently in events it caters, such as high-end events with the board of trustees, donor dinners, and key meals served when the college hosted the 2012 vice presidential debate.
Kentucky Proud co-sponsored the Governor’s Media Reception at Centre on the eve of the debate. The event showcased Kentucky-produced cheeses, seasonal vegetables, chicken, Ale-8-One soft drinks, and desserts made with Weisenberger Mill flour.
“This is a huge opportunity for us to place Kentucky agriculture on an international stage,” Commissioner Comer said at the time. “All of Kentucky knows the value of this brand … and now, so will the rest of the world.”
Through April 28, Centre students are celebrating Green Week on campus, and Centre Dining is hosting a sustainability picnic and a two-day “meet your vendor” campaign that will feature a number of Kentucky Proud farmers and businesses.
Mashburn said that, in the future, Centre will strive to expand its offering of Kentucky Proud products on campus and to the surrounding Danville community.