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Locally Grown is Growing

Simply San Juan

While Steve Muntz describes his farm in Montgomery County as a "small sheep farm with a few pasture poultry," his involvement in sustainable agriculture reaches across the entire southern U.S.

He is executive director of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, an organization that helps farmers in 13 states produce locally grown food. Muntz says the South was late to the movement, but is making progress in developing locally-grown food hubs.

"Some of them are doing very well, but some of them are really struggling," he says. "They are trying to aggregate good product and get it to folks who want local food."

There are now more than 2,000 farmers' markets across the south according to Muntz, with 135 Kentucky markets listed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture directory. Muntz says Kentucky and other southern states still need more farmers producing more food.

He says sustainable, locally-produced agriculture continues to face a lot of complications and complexities over policy, pricing and supply.

Muntz notes farming is not an easy thing to get into, especially for a young person who faces the challenges of access to land and start-up costs.

"You have to be persistent, it has to be a passion that you are willing to follow," says Muntz. "If you do that, you can make it, but it's not an easy path."

Muntz has been executive director of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group for the past year and a half. The working group, which turns 25 next year, will have it's annual conference in Lexington in January. 

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