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A Look Back, A Path Forward: Lessons Learned from the Food Hub Vanguard - Grasshoppers Distribution

Grasshoppers Distribution, a food hub on the vanguard, had lasting impacts and lessons.


Grasshoppers Distribution LLC, an NGFN Food Hub Collaboration Study Hub, was a food hub in Louisville, Kentucky, that was established in 2006 by four Kentucky farmers seeking to connect regional products with local markets. It grew to nearly one million dollars in annual sales of local farm products, before closing its doors in December of 2013. Over the course of its operations, Grasshoppers worked with over 70 different food producers, and directed over $2.25 million into the hands of local farmers and food entrepreneurs. 

Grasshoppers underwent many transitions within its lifetime including changes in business model and leadership. They were true pioneers in promoting and providing regionally produced foods in Kentucky. They opened their doors just before the onset of the Great Recession, and adapted to new challenges and opportunities as public interest in local food expanded. Grasshoppers forged a new path to the unique opportunities and challenges in regional food system development. 

This webinar examines the story behind the evolution of Grasshoppers and explores key challenges, best practices, lessons learned, and the organization’s lasting impact on Kentucky agriculture and the local food sector. 




Presenter Bios

Lilian Brislen

Lily Brislen

Lilian Brislen is the newly appointed Director of the University of Kentucky's Food Connection, a new regional food system initiative focused on interdisciplinary and innovative instruction, high-impact service and outreach, and cutting edge research on foods and food systems.  She is also a PhD Candidate in Rural Sociology at the University of Kentucky, and her dissertation looks at the impact of three case study food hubs in the South Eastern US on participating mid-sized farms.  She received her M.S. in Agriculture from the University of Kentucky, and her B.A. from Beloit College.

Dr. Timonthy Woods

Tim WoodsDr. Woods is a Professor of Agricultural Economics and state extension specialist in the area of horticulture, agribusiness marketing, and management.  He has devoted his time and energy to help facilitate the development of small ag-related businesses and cooperatives that have promising innovative processes and/or products.  He served as the staff economist to the Kentucky Governor’s Office of Ag Policy and Ag Development Board.  His work in farm entrepreneurship, business planning, cooperative development, consumer market research for microenterprises, and facilitating value-added enterprises for farmers and agriculture has been presented at numerous international workshops, professional meetings, and state and regional extension programs.  He recently developed MarketReady, a nationally recognized best marketing practices education program for farmers selling to restaurants, grocery, and wholesale. This program is being used in 15 states.   He has worked extensively with agriculture in other countries, including programs in India, Ukraine, Romania, Indonesia, Thailand, Ecuador, Kenya and France, but greatly values local food systems.  He just returned with a team of students studying food business and economic development in France and Switzerland.  Dr. Woods teaches Agribusiness Management and Marketing Horticultural Products at the University of Kentucky.

Malini Ram Moraghan

Malini Ram Moraghan

Malini is former Managing Director of Investments at Wholesome Wave where she spent 3yrs leading an impact investments team focused on food and agriculture, specifically structuring financing for food hubs.  Her team orchestrated over $4 million in flexible investment into a variety of regional food enterprises and across an array of different investor types.  Malini is a corporate ex-patriot who brings experience as a McKinsey consultant, JPMorgan banker and AmeriCorps VISTA.  Malini has an MBA from University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cooper Union.  She also serves on the Board of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance.  She is based in Chicago. 

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