Touring Regional Food Systems in Cincinnati and Kentucky

Last year, the Kenton County Plan4Health Coalition (KCP4H) held a food policy summit to kick off the start of the local food policy council.

The summit brought together over 20 exhibitors, each one showcasing healthy and nutritious eating habits as well as local food production and consumption. There were several featured panel discussions about regional food system issues and the local food resources that were available.

The summit also featured the local chefs collaborative preparing meals with a twist using local sourced foods and environmentally sustainable dinnerware. The event began a dialogue around food system gaps and how to take action to create healthier communities.

See more:

Part of the work of the Kenton County Plan4Health Coalition was the creation of a Story Map that encompasses the work done by the coalition during their project period. View the coalition's Story Map for more information about the project.

This year, in celebration of the work of the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, the Council scheduled two food system tours to educate policymakers, the media, and planners on the positive impacts that a food system had on their community. The goal was to provide key partners with a perspective of food system policy being important and a part of the policy portfolio that needed to be addressed.

The tours focused on two geographic areas: sites within Cincinnati and sites throughout Northern Kentucky. Tours included short stories from site managers about their successes, challenges, and the programming offered. The tour participants met and visited many stakeholders, including farmers, gardeners, distributors, processors, and emergency food providers to better understand the rich array of programs and activities that support economic development and food security in communities.

The tours took attendees to these stops:

1. Gabriel’s Place

Attendees learned how to operate a community garden, participated in cooking classes and experienced a farmer’s market. Gabriel’s Place provides seed to table food education in Avondale.

Inside the greenhouse at Gabriel's Place.  Photo courtesy Greater Cincinnati Food Policy Council.

Soup from Gabriel's Place. Photo courtesy Greater Cincinnati Food Policy Council.

2. Freestore Foodbank

Freestore Foodbank is one of Ohio’s largest food banks, distributing 23 million meals annually through a network of 350 community partner agencies that serve 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. These community partner agencies include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, community centers, program sites, senior centers, and daycare facilities.

Freestore also operates a culinary job training program, a community farm, the weekend Power Pack program, and after-school meals programs.

Learning about Freestore Foodbank. Photo courtesy Greater Cincinnati Food Policy Council.

Service area map of Freestore Foodbank. Photo courtesy Greater Cincinnati Food Policy Council.

Recipes at Freestore Foodbank. Photo courtesy Greater Cincinnati Food Policy Council.

3. Our Harvest

Our Harvest is a farmer-owned cooperative that distributes local produce year-round throughout Cincinnati. Through the creation of farm jobs that pay sustainable wages and utilizing responsible growing practices, Our Harvest is strengthening the local food system in Cincinnati. Through strategic partnerships and advocacy it makes access to fresh, local food possible in all of Greater Cincinnati.

Garden at Our Harvest. Photo courtesy Greater Cincinnati Food Policy Council.

4. CincySprouts

CincySprouts is an entrepreneurial-based learning project that began in order to provide farmers and gardeners in the Cincinnati area with plants and seedlings that had been grown locally without the use of chemical herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers. The seedlings are germinated in a nursery or on one of the farms that remains within the city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

CincySprouts offers several wholesale options for local growers and customizable retail purchase options for gardeners.

Seedlings at CincySprouts. Photo courtesy Greater Cincinnati Food Policy Council.

5. Jubilee Farm

Working to eliminate food scarcity in Cincinnati with fresh, locally grown produce, Jubilee uses outdoor gardens, indoor herbs, and hydroponics. It also provides job training and community building.

Redesigned front lawns at Jubilee Farms.  Photo courtesy Greater Cincinnati Food Policy Council.

The 2017-2019 policy agenda of the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council is divided into four buckets:

  • healthy food access and consumption
  • distribution and procurement
  • production and land use
  • assessment, planning, zoning, and food waste

If you’d like more information about the work of the food policy council, check out the Green Umbrella Regional Sustainability Alliance.

Learn more about the work of the Kenton County Plan4Health Coalition.

Top image: Urban farming in Covington, Kentucky’s Orchard Park increases access to healthy food for local residents. Photo by Elizabeth Hartig.


This post was originally published on APA's Plan4Health project website. Rosa Riley, with the American Public Health Association, is the author.


July 7, 2017

By Rosa Riley