Ben Kjelshus Presented with Inaugural Grow the Circle Award
By Emily Akins, coordinator, Kansas City Food Circle

This year marks the first year of the Ben Kjelshus Grow the Circle Award.

The KC Food Circle and Cultivate Kansas City worked together with Janet Moss and Joel Wakham to develop this award to honor Ben Kjelshus, a visionary of Kansas City’s local food movement and one of the founding members of the Food Circle.

The annual award was presented to Kjelshus during the KC Food Circle’s Eat Local and Organic Expo April 12 at Penn Valley Community College.

“This event and the local food movement in Kansas City exists in no small part because of Ben’s vision, his hard work over the years and his passion for bringing people into it,” said Katherine Kelly, executive director of Cultivate Kansas City.

As a member of the Kansas City Greens Party, a political party based on sustainable principles of the green movement, Kjelshus was inspired by a conference sponsored by Rodale Press that emphasized the importance of a sustainable food system and he began the work that would soon become the KC Food Circle.

Kjelshus has been instrumental in bringing the KC Food Circle to life, from the first Eat Local and Organic Expo in 1999 when there were only 10 farmers and 300 attendees to today when the KC Food Circle boasts 100 member-farmers and a regular annual Expo attendance of about 2,000.

Kjelshus has a long history and unique resume working to build sustainability in the region. He originally worked on energy conservation issues for the City of Kansas City, he also has a master’s degree in social work and served as a Unitarian Universalist minister.

His passion for the earth and conserving its resources runs far beyond his work. Kjelshus and his wife, Carol, have spent years using conservation practices to revive a farm they bought near Urich, Mo. But it was Kjelshus’ work as co-founder of the Kansas City Greens in the mid-1980s that prompted him to begin thinking about how to form a community food system that would confront the globalization and industrialization of the world’s food supply.

Today the KC Food Circle is building a community food system in which farmers, eaters, chefs, and grocers know and trust each other while working together to promote the benefits of locally-grown organic and free-range foods. The primary purpose remains to support farmers in the region who strive to produce delicious, nourishing food, use environmentally-sound, organic methods that restore and preserve the health of the land and who treat their animals humanely.

“The KC Food Circle idea came out of the Green movement recognizing that everything is interconnected,” said Kjelshus. “I think we need to realize that many problems we have are connected. So, when we think of solutions we need to think that maybe many of them are also connected and I think we can see that in terms of linking growers and eaters.”

At 91, Kjelshus continues to set an example and embody this mission of the KC Food Circle. The Ben Kjelshus Grow the Circle Award will be given each year by KC Food Circle and Cultivate Kansas City to a person or organization who follows Ben’s noble example

We are all grateful to Kjelshus for having the foresight to get this movement going. Clearly this was something we needed here in Kansas City and we are all glad to be a part of it.

“The KC Food Circle idea came out of the Green movement recognizing that everything is interconnected,” said Kjelshus. “I think we need to realize that many problems we have are connected. So, when we think of solutions we need to think that maybe many of them are also connected and I think we can see that in terms of linking growers and eaters.”

At 91, Kjelshus continues to set an example and embody this mission of the KC Food Circle. The Ben Kjelshus Grow the Circle Award will be given each year by KC Food Circle and Cultivate Kansas City to a person or organization who follows Ben’s noble example

We are all grateful to Kjelshus for having the foresight to get this movement going. Clearly this was something we needed here in Kansas City and we are all glad to be a part of it.

 

Cultivate Kansas City
4223 Gibbs Road
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Phone (913) 831-2444
info@cultivatekc.orgCopyright © 2016