By CHRIS ALDRIDGE, Kentucky Proud Connection
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Agriculture Commissioner James Comer believes the second annual crop of Kentucky's Local Food Heroes are just as their name implies – heroes.
"I view a farmer in the same light as I view our great military personnel and our hard-working first responders; They're heroes," Commissioner Comer said at a ceremony honoring the 2014 Local Food Heroes at the Kentucky Exposition Center during the Kentucky State Fair in August in Louisville.
"There's nothing more important to our lives than having a safe, healthy, reliable food supply," Commissioner Comer said. "And we have that because of the sacrifice of our farm families all across the state."
Brooke Eckmann of Ambrosia Farm near Finchville, Russell Poore of Poore's Nursery and Farm near Russellville, and Jacob Sharpe of Sharpe Farms near Georgetown were the top three statewide vote-getters.
"One thing that's really special about agriculture in Kentucky right now – it was kinda born here in Louisville – is the local food movement." Commissioner Comer said. "People want to know where their food comes from; they want to trace it back to the farm – we call that traceability in agriculture. They want to support local economies and support local family farmers, and that's what this program is all about."
Commissioner Comer said in his travels across the state, he has seen the local food movement spreading from Louisville into Lexington, Bowling Green, even Hazard.
"We can grow our economy through food production and agriculture," he said. "That's what our goal is at the Department of Agriculture."
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is a staunch supporter of local foods. Louisville Metro government is a partner in the Local Food Hero Awards along with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Seed Capital Kentucky. The awards are sponsored by Farm Credit Mid-America.
"I think it's in [our] DNA to plant something in the ground, nuture it, see it grow, bring it along its way, and then, when you have that final vegetable or fruit, to enjoy it and share it with anybody that you know, and teach your kids and your grandkids how to do this," said Fischer, who owns a farm in Henry County.
Following are profiles of this year's Local Food Heroes, all of whom concluded by answering the same three important questions.