I’ve not seen a farm that embodies the “urban-rural continuum” quite like nearly 250-year-old Oxmoor Farm in Louisville, Ky. With 8 acres of vegetable plots, hoop houses, and a barn and silo, it’s a snapshot of all things rural—that is, if you turn your back to the cars rushing down I-64, which bisects the property. This historic working farm is home to Louisville’s only farm-based education program, The Food Literacy Project, and was one stop on Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall’s visit with the Prince of Wales to the U.S. last week as they toured environmental and sustainability projects around the city.
The Duchess is no stranger to the garden. As part of her official royal duties, she helps Prince Charles promote local food production and healthy eating and has even been caught guerrilla gardening, and her visit helped to highlight the food and farming initiatives taking place in the Bluegrass State. While at the farm, she planted rhubarb and made homemade pizzas with elementary-school children in the Food Literacy Project’s Field-to-Fork Afterschool Club and visited with Ivor Chodkowski, Food Literacy Project co-founder and the property’s tenant farmer, who, in addition to providing fresh produce for organization, operates Field Day Family Farm (a vegetable CSA program) and owns a farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Louisville.
Since its establishment in 2006, the Food Literacy Project has introduced more than 25,000 youth and their families to the concept of a sustainable food system, focusing particularly on underserved areas of the city at risk for diet-related diseases.
“We share Her Royal Highness’s vision for sustainability, healthy eating, and vibrant communities,” says executive director Carol Gundersen, who greeted the Duchess upon arrival to the farm. “We believe that human health and environmental sustainability can co-exist, with children and families driving real and lasting change in their communities.”
These sentiments were echoed by Prince Charles himself, as he addressed a gathering at the Cathedral of the Assumption later that evening. He highlighted how prioritizing conservation can lead not only to healthier people and communities, but can have great economic impact, as well. A major part of this is supporting an environment in which sustainably minded, small-scale farms can thrive.
“Re-localizing your food systems and encouraging the many small and medium-sized farms that surround your city to consider how best to offer locally produced food would make a tremendous difference to the long-term sustainability of your economy, especially if real attention was paid to the health of the soil,” he said.
Prince Charles’ farm in Gloucestershire has been organically managed since 1986, and produces milk, beef, lamb, mutton, pork, wheat, barley, oats, rye, mustard, and more than 70 varieties of fruits and vegetables. At his home Highgrove, nearly 90 percent of the energy comes from renewable sources and 60 percent is produced on-site.
More Photos from the Food Literacy Project at Oxmoor Farm: