24 Community Council members, civic and citizen leaders came together on Saturday, December 12th, 2015 for a half-day retreat focused on developing ways in which the West Louisville FoodPort can have a sustainable, accountable, engaging, and long term process to ensure benefits to the community for the life of the development.
Roger Williams, an expert in “Responsible Redevelopment,” with national and international experience in managing community transformation, asset building, resident ownership, resident engagement, and developing innovative community economic development and housing financing strategies, guided the group in applying the principles of responsible redevelopment to the FoodPort project. The retreat was designed and facilitated by Dana Jackson and Jennie Jean Davidson of Better Together Strategies.
The framework of Responsible Redevelopment rests on putting the community first and doing better than “business as usual” by employing twelve guiding principles. Six of these principles are particularly relevant to this phase of the West Louisville FoodPort project and will guide the evolution of this development project as we move forward:
Authentic Engagement: Incorporate a robust engagement process into redevelopment efforts involving stakeholders and community-based organizations in planning, design, implementation and evaluation activities. Empower residents with opportunities to voice their needs and concerns.
Capacity-Building: Provide residents and community-based organizations with support and technical assistance to build their capacities to negotiate with developers, municipal officials and other stakeholders.
Community Benefits: Use community benefits agreements and other legally binding arrangements to provide tangible benefits to residents (e.g. economic inclusion provisions, job opportunities, living wages, dedicated affordable housing).
Community Ownership and Wealth-Building: Develop programs to allow resident and community ownership of new businesses and commercial enterprises to help build assets for low-income individuals, their families and their broader community.
Anchor Institutions: Encourage “anchor institutions”–hospitals, colleges, universities, businesses and other entities rooted in communities–to help catalyze and sustain responsible development.
Sustainable Partnerships and the need for Champions: Build “public-private partnerships” among stakeholders with varying goals, interests and levels of power. Enlist public, private or philanthropic “champions” to influence and help ensure that stakeholders adhere to the core elements throughout the responsible redevelopment process.
The retreat participants broke out into small groups to explore ways in which the responsible redevelopment framework lends itself to the work that has already been done as well as upcoming opportunities to engage with each individual tenant. Groups brainstormed on how to ensure broader community engagement and inclusion by developing strategies around effective communication and outlining ways to measure success as the FoodPort prepares for construction and ultimate operation.
Key take-aways from the retreat include:
The process of collaborating and partnering with community leaders, residents, businesses, and government to create authentic, sustainable engagement, has proven to be an enlightening process. Parties on every side of this discussion have been inspired to challenge their previous understandings for what constitutes a successful community development. Through the course of our retreat and subsequent conversations, there was the collective realization that true benefits promote wealth creation and empowerment. Setting employment goals and diversity requirements is very important, but does not in itself lead to wealth in the community. By going further to explore entrepreneurial opportunities and long term investments, we can raise the bar on what success truly looks like.
The important takeaway for Community Benefits is that this should be a process, and not simply a document identifying a certain set of terms. By creating a process, we can ensure that the FoodPort benefits the community in every aspect of its function and over the lifetime of its existence. To accomplish that, the goal has evolved toward creating platforms that engage the community every step of the way and build a constant sense of ownership. If the community feels true ownership in the development, it will lead to stronger sustainability. As a result, that ownership will help to create a new, inspired environment for empowerment. As this conversation evolves, we are constantly encouraging everyone to expand the view of success. The challenging deliverables, the higher paying opportunities, and the longer term investments are where focus should be placed. With a trustworthy process in place, we can address the smaller, more immediate benefits that typically come with developments, while also allowing accountability on the challenging, more sustainable needs.
This process will be dynamic, and it will be an equal partnership with the community. While we seek to raise the bar for how developments benefit the community, Mr. Williams helped us understand that the community must play an active role in finding solutions with the developers. Respecting the voice of the community, and partnering with the community to uncover and support constant, evolving benefits, will build a precedent that can transform our city.
The three winners of our Local Food Hero award were honored today by Mayor Greg Fischer and Commissioner James Comer. Thank you to everyone who participated this year–we had an even bigger turnout than last year, with over 3100 votes from all over the region and 264 comments from voters telling us what local food means to them. It’s so exciting to see how much people love their local farmers!
Congratulations to the 2014 Local Food Heroes:
Brooke Eckmann of Ambrosia Farm, Shelby County
Jacob Sharpe of Sharpe Farms, Scott County
Russell Poore of Poore’s Nursery and Farm, 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 1800 farmers were listed on the Seed Capital KY website and the votes began rolling in from all across the commonwealth over an 18-day period. Nearly 3200 votes were cast. We received 264 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:
This year, the Local Food Hero award is sponsored by Farm Credit Mid-America. Because of their generosity, each of the Local Food Heroes will be receiving a $500 cash prize and will have a farm to table dinner cooked with their food in their honor.
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 2014 Local Food Heroes:
The top three vote-getters were chosen as the winners this year. Between them they received a little over a third of all the votes cast in the contest, and they represent three distinct regions of the commonwealth.
Brooke Eckmann of Ambrosia Farm in Finchville, KY. In 2011 Brooke Eckmann took the leap from school teacher and community gardener to full-time produce farmer in Shelby County. Although she grows a wide selection of gourmet produce, Brooke is best known for her tomatoes. Her 82 varieties of heirloom tomatoes have made her somewhat of a tomato celebrity in the Louisville restaurant scene–she supplies to such beloved eateries as Seviche, Napa River Grill, Volare, Varanese, La Coop, 610 Magnolia, St. Charles Exchange and Papalinos Pizza.
One of her voters commented: “We travel the world working with farmers, artisans and chefs and we have never met someone more passionate and dedicated to growing the finest vegetables that soil can produce. With tender loving care, Brooke Eckmann nurtures her gems and proudly shares them with those that truly understand the quality that she produces. By listening to her customers, producing the best, and personally delivering her produce, she has built strong relationships with local chefs that are so impressed with her produce as to feature dinners centered on Ambrose Farm produce. Local customers travel miles for her produce.”
Jacob Sharpe of Sharpe Farms in Georgetown, KY. Jacob Sharpe is a determined young agripreneur, committed to producing and transitioning alternative crops to the marketplace. He helps manage Sharpe Farms, established in the late 1700’s. He and his family raise an assortment of crops for commercial and retail markets, including farm fresh vegetables, potted fall mums, a large variety of pumpkins and fall decor. Jacob also operates HomeGrown Direct, a business to help establish market opportunities for area farmers.
A voter said of Sharpe and his brother Beckham, “Hats off to these young men of Georgetown KY and making a difference on our table and good health. Eating farm fresh produce is key to a long, healthy and happy life. Thank you for taking care of our Kentucky community with your hard work and delicious farm fresh produce.”
Russell Poore, of Poore’s Nursery and Farm in Russellville, KY. Opened in 1960, Poore’s Nursey and Farm is a four generation family farm run by Russell and Patsy Poore. The Poores are currently growing 15 acres of produce and a seven acre orchard consisting of apple, peach and pear trees and a wide variety of berries. The operation includes greenhouse and raised bed production. They are also known for their local honey.
One voter commented, “You will not find a better farmer, better produce or a harder worker. Loves his family and the community! And it shows in everything he does.”
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.