A Produce Park for Local Residents in Louisville

In a previous blog post, I had profiled the West Louisville Food Port in Louisville, Kentucky.  The Food Port will be a transformative Culinary Oriented Development that will focus on everything from farming and processing, to culinary education and retail.

It was recently announced that a community orchard aptly titled “Produce Park” will emerge across the street from the Food Port.  Why have derelict lots just sit empty in neighborhoods that are in need of revitalization?  Why not use them for community uses?  Louisville is progressively putting together a catalyst project with Produce Park, a community-oriented orchard that will provide the local residents with a central gathering space that will provide fresh produce annually.

From Insider Louisville

A partnership between Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government, the University of Kentucky, architectural firm Gresham Smith & Partners and the nonprofit Louisville Grows has turned a once-vacant lot into “a garden of Eden,” said Valerie Magnuson, executive director of Louisville Grows.

Produce Park is a community orchard and garden that is located at 437 S. 30th St. across from the future $56 million West Louisville FoodPort. The park, which Louisville Grows will maintain, will feature fruit trees, fruit bushes and shade trees. Several small peach trees already are bearing fruit.

“There’s going to be a tremendous hub right around here around creating local food,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, noting that the area is “about ready to take off in a huge way” when workers break ground on the food port this fall.

Produce Park is meant to serve as a gathering space for nearby neighbors to hang out, and residents will be able to pick any food that grows there, creating access to fresh fruit including peaches, cherries, apples, strawberries and plums in an area of town that qualifies as a food desert.

The City is using a $30,000 grant from the Bloomberg Fund to initiate the development of Produce Park.  Louisville Grows will fundraise the additional funds needed for supplementary items such as signage, bike racks, continued upkeep, etc.   Government and private grants such as the Bloomberg Fund are likely going to be the incentive required to get these types of projects started.  A question I raise is whether they should be included into the budget of parks departments?  Especially if they are a public use.

It will take several years for fruit trees to start producing fruit, but the seeds are in the ground you could say.

This neighborhood is increasingly becoming a hotbed for culinary based functions, with Produce Park, the planned Food Port, and the popular incubator Chef Space which is Louisville’s first kitchen incubator for budding culinary entrepreneurs.


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