Through LCAAHC programs we seek to preserve cultural foodways, enhance community partnerships, address community food insecurity, and support value-added food producers in the region to scale up production and generate take-home income.
Our key projects include: Heritage Farmer's Market, Heritage Commercial Kitchen, the Farm & Garden Program, and the Small Livestock Program.
Wayne Riley’s work background regularly brought him into close contact with lower-income people. Wayne Riley fundamentally believes that people who are “down and out” are not lazy, but instead are in need of opportunities to learn and work. The Farm and Kitchen allow LCAAHC to teach people to grow their own food and provide for their families, thereby decreasing food insecurity and household cash expenses, and increasing income by commercially producing a commodity that can be sold retail.
The Commercial Kitchen began as an outgrowth of two separate activities of LCAAHC: the serving of community meals in the kitchen, and gardening as part of a Grow Appalachia project. Wayne began to see that if he could teach people to grow and preserve food, they could feed themselves and others year-round, rather than rely on the Center for only one meal per day.
Through the Grow Appalachia project and by working with local community members, LCAAHC began to see an increased interest in food preservation through canning, and community members creating value-added products from their gardens that they could sell to increase their household income.
As the idea of a commercial kitchen began to outgrow the small kitchen located at the African American Heritage Museum, Mr. Riley kept an eye out for kitchen equipment that could be purchased at little cost to LCAAHC, and he began to buy and stored items for future use. At the same time he started telling community leaders of the plans for a commercial kitchen.
In 2015, the City of London donated a house for LCAAHC to use as the commercial kitchen, which was moved onto a piece of property owned by LCAAHC.
The Heritage Farmers’ Market idea emerged from the growth and success of the Community Kitchen. As Commercial Kitchen farmers started growing and processing more foodstuff they wanted to sell their produce. The farmers wanted to operate independent of the county farmers market, and LCAAHC applied for and received a permit to becme a secondary farmers market in Laurel County. The Heritage Farmer's Market is open from mid-May thru mid-October and allows vendors to set up all season and sell their produce and products.
Initially, many community member-participants in the Commercial Kitchen and Farmer's Market grew their produce on the LCAAHC Urban farm located in the city limits of London, KY. We worked the farm at 1401 Griffin St. for 6 years on leased property. The LCAAHC had 5 small High-Tunnels and 2 large High-Tunnels, in addition to a 75’ X 100’ garden outside.
The produce grown on the farm was used to teach our classes, and was given to families in need and the elderly. The extra produce was given to the jail, the local nursing home, and the local assisted living facility.
Currently we are relocating the farm to 170 Riley Dr. East Bernstadt, KY 40729. We have everything moved, and we are now in the process of getting the High-Tunnels back up and in use in time for the fall 2020 growing season. We also have a large and expanding garden. Produce from the garden will be used to teach canning classes, and if there is any extra it will be donated to families in need or sold at the farmers market.
LCAAHC wants the farming and canning classes as well as the commercial kitchen to be used community-wide. Home canners are able to use it for personal preservation and entrepreneurs can use it to produce a value-added product for sale. LCAAHC will use the farm produce and educational classes to generate revenue for the Center to continue operations.
We also keep small livestock on the farm. We have rabbits, chickens, sheep, and now hogs. These animals are used as a source of meat for families in need.
Some of our animals are kept as pets for the children who visit. These animals are not be processed, and neither are laying hens.