The University of Kentucky has announced the next Cornerstone Community Innovation Partner (CIP) for the 2022-23 academic year. This year’s partner is FoodChain, which will have an ongoing presence at The Cornerstone to increase community engagement with students and faculty.
This 12-month long partnership is intended to help foster The Cornerstone’s vision of innovation and entrepreneurship through building connection between the community and the university.
“Located at the intersection of UK’s campus with downtown, The Cornerstone was built to encourage vibrant interaction between students, faculty, staff, and the broader Lexington community,” said Melody Flowers, UK executive director for strategic analysis and policy. “Easily accessible by foot, bike or car, The Cornerstone offers flexible meeting spaces and cutting-edge technology, as well as food and beverages retailers, in a modern space designed to support collaboration and connections.”
FoodChain works to connect the Lexington community to fresh food and cultivate more active participation in the local food system. This is accomplished through community outreach including tours, kitchen programming and activities on FoodChain’s aquaponics farm. The organization believes that it is through community that we can build a more just, equitable and sustainable food system for all.
The organization will work with the university, including facilities, colleges, The Food Connection, the UK Economic Development Collaborative and others to bring an aquaponics system into The Cornerstone. Aquaponics are food systems that combine aquaculture (fish, snails, etc.) and hydroponics to grow plants. The system will be available to be used as demonstration for classes and to host training sessions.
The Cornerstone building serves as the gateway to an emerging innovation district that will further connect the university with the city of Lexington. It is designed to foster a wide range of idea sharing, event hosting and programmatic opportunities around the concepts of innovation, creativity, technology, entrepreneurship and equitable economic development.
FoodChain has worked alongside the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, Campus Kitchen and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
“Kristin Hughes, FoodChain community education and outreach director, says, “We look forward to connecting with students and faculty to increase education and programming around sustainable food systems while working together to conduct research. We are especially excited to introduce aquaponics on campus and collaborate with UK, other community partners and the Lexington community on urban agriculture and its role in a community food system.”