News and Views — 15 Thousand Farmers in Louisville, Kentucky

Quite a while ago I made an announcement to my husband that “it is all going back to farming” and he agreed.  Specifically, I was referencing the plethora of new homes that were built when countless farmers had to sell their land (because they were no longer making a profit) and what will happen to all of that housing stock once the baby boomer generation is no longer able to live on their own. 

My brain started to wrap around what could happen to all of those vacant homes and the only viable solution I could conceive was that they would be torn down and the ground, once again, would be tilled to farm.  Only this time it wouldn’t be for 50,000 acre sod farms; this time it would be smaller plots that individuals could maintain their own family gardens on. 

For a while I thought maybe I was hoping for an unreachable utopia but while I read last Sunday’s post, Eco Tips From the City by Moonbeads, I was ecstatic to learn about 15 Thousand Farmers.  As I looked into these folks further, my own idea of a utopia started to seem a lot more realistic.

Many of you may be thinking, ‘wow, 15,000, that’s a lot of farmers’, and you would be correct — the goal of this group is to initiate a movement in the urban sector of Louisville, Kentucky for 15,000 people to start growing their own organic food and flowers.

What a fantastic concept!  Matt and I are growing a container garden this year with a bunch of veggies and herbs, mostly to make salsa and salad (tomato, jalapeno, cilantro, basil, kale, lettuce, radish, rosemary, oregano) and I am encouraged by this group of people in Kentucky for going the extra mile and bringing thousands of people, just like Matt and I, together for one common purpose.

The plan is simple.  Sign up to get a “Dirt Card”, read and learn from the checklist how to grow an organic garden consisting of flowers, veggies and herbs, get planting your 4′ x 4′ plot! 

They call it an Easy Farm and it really is.  Not only do these folks provide all the tools necessary to learn where, what and how to plant, they are helping literal thousands to eat organically, reduce carbon footprints / oil dependence, and the best way to begin composting.

With so many tools to make gardening simplified, it is no wonder the group is growing so quickly!  I spoke with Valerie, co founder and gardening guru, and she was more than happy to provide me with additional information.

What year did you start 15K?

Gary Heine, Steve Vice and I started 15Thousand Farmers Feb. 2010.

How many members do you have so far?

We have over 900 Dirt Card holders/farmers so far.

How fast is it growing?

Our goal is to reach 15,000 in 5 years. We chose the number because of a talk we heard by Michael Pollen at the Bioneers conference last fall that the US needs 30-50 million new farmers to reduce our use of carbon in our food supply and that growing food [is] the fastest way to sequester carbon of all technologies we have available today. In figuring our portion (150,000 for a 1.5 million person city) we decided [that] sounds a bit out of reach, so we decided on 15,000 instead.

What happens when you hit 15,000?

When we reach that number we will C E L E B R A T E ! ! ! And keep on going.

Any advice for someone who might want to start a similar endeavor in another city?

Our vision is to have this model be easily replicable in all other cities and we are working on a new website that will (hopefully) give the opportunity for other cities to start their own community network, have simple instructions for new farmers, encourage events, etc. A kind of Craig’s List where people would have a structure and then make what is most needed for the location and zone etc.

If someone wants to start this on their own – keep it VERY simple, empower people to take a simple step and get going somehow to feel like their life can make a difference, one step at a time. Offer opportunities to come together and talk and celebrate what is happening.

Are you in the Louisville (or southern Indiana) area?  Want to become a member of this cool organization and start growing your own organic farm plot?  Just visit their website and sign up then get out to their monthly meeting (conveniently, on the 15th of every month).  Don’t forget to throw them some love on Facebook too!

For those of us not in or around Louisville, how do you ensure you are eating organic?  Farmer’s Markets are great but what about growing your own veggies?  Do you have enough space for a small container garden of your own?  How about reducing your lawn to plant a bunch of yummy goodness?

I don’t know about you but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for when their new website launches so I can join up with a group here in Boston!

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About Karen Lee

As a former Captain of Eco Etsy and one of the current leaders for the team, I am really excited to be hanging out with like minded team members to share ideas on how we can leave the least amount of carbon footprint.

I sell eco-handmade and vintage goodies in my Etsy shop and consult small business owners on Karen Lee Consulting where popular Etsy Starter Kit is sold. And as a retired Chiropractor, I share natural health news and green tips on Check out my past posts on Eco Etsy!


  1. Thanks for such positive feedback everyone! I was so intrigued by the concept of this movement that now I am looking into community farming in my own city of Boston!

    Rachel, let me know if you locate something in Denver as I have a couple friends there who would love to know :-)

    pink cobweb, that news is surprising and not at the same time. I have been keeping an eye on Walmart lately and have been pleasantly surprised by so many of the eco, humanitarian and socially conscious initiatives they are putting into place. This just seals the deal!

  2. WOW, I love this!! Visited Louisville recently, it’s pretty wonderful there even without this movement. This makes me want to move there and get involved.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. Great article.My Dad was an organic gardener and instilled that in me.Thanks for these kinds of articles that I can forward to my friends to encourage them to start their own.
    And I recently learned from a student of mine that those who receive food stamps can buy starter plants at Walmart with them.I thought that was really great.

  4. What a great idea! If 15 000 people each grow a small garden it can and will make a big difference. Besides the obvious benefit of fresh garden produce and the reduction of fossil fuels I believe that when people garden it brings them closer to the earth and this is exactly what we need right now.

  5. Thank you for sharing this organization! how wonderful! I’ll have to check if there is something like this in the Denver area. We love our veggie garden (although the recent hail storms have done some damage…).

  6. this is a success story all sense of the word..a sure way to bring the world together in your little corner