In September 2007, the Economic Development Department of Louisville Metro Government, in conjunction with local collaborators, retained the consultant team of Market Ventures, Inc. and Karp Resources (“MVI/KR”) to study the potential for increasing sales of locally grown and produced foods in Louisville. The premise of the study is that Louisville, as the state’s largest population center, has the potential to increase substantially the amount of food purchased from Kentucky farmers. The primary goal of the study has been to identify strategies that will most effectively increase Kentucky farmer income through new or expanded sales to Louisville consumers, businesses and institutions. In addition, the team has considered strategies that have additional benefits besides farm income, such as the community revitalization effects of farmers’ markets or the impact that a downtown public market might have on attracting tourists.
Over the course of the study period, the MVI/KR team studied the city’s existing food economy, the present state of Kentucky agriculture, and current initiatives at the local and state level. Through its research and analysis, the consultant team sought to identify the highest potential opportunities for increasing sales of locally grown and produced foods through the city’s various food sectors, including retail, restaurant, wholesale, food processing and manufacturing, institutional food service, and emergency feeding. The team then developed strategies that address the myriad ways that food intersects with the local economy and developed recommendations for making targeted investments, altering public policies or private practices, and undertaking new initiatives that will link or stimulate local supply and demand, as well as address needed infrastructure to support food sales from local farmers.
Principal research methods included key informant interviews, review of secondary data and reports, and focus groups with a diverse group of 90 farmers from the 13 county region around Louisville.