Farmers' markets will abound this summer

March 09, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

Kentucky growers are gearing up for the largest farmers' market season ever, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

A new farmers' market is planned for Casey County, and markets also will be open in Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties.

"We're striving to have a farmers' market open this summer in one section of the Ag Center," said Arlen Sanders, executive director of the Liberty-Casey County Economic Development Authority.

While plans are still in the making, Sanders said there will be an area close to the front of the Ag Center for anyone who wants to set up to sell farm products. He said several local people have expressed interest and he hopes to have produce Friday and Saturday mornings.


Later, a 60- by 200-square-foot building will house stalls for the farmers' market as well as for ornamentals, trees and other products. If space allows, other counties will be welcome to bring in produce for sale.

If anyone is interested in the farmers' market, contact Sanders at (606) 787-9973.

There are several farmers in the South Fork area of Casey County who have markets at their farms.

Producers of large acres of fruits and vegetables as well as those who just have a garden share their fruits, vegetables, nursery plants, baked goods, jams, jellies and other items during the growing season.

Markets will serve 1,400 state producers

Casey's markets are among more than 87 across in the state, including five others in this area, and another six working to get established for the upcoming season. The markets will serve 1,400 state producers, according to Janet Eaton of the state agriculture department.

"Farmers' markets are a great way for growers to try producing and selling different products at low risk," said Richie Farmer, state agriculture commissioner. "They also give the consumer a chance to meet the people who grow their food. Some of the bigger markets provide entertainment and community events that attract hundreds of consumers from miles around. Farmers' markets are an important means of direct marketing, and we're glad so many producers are participating."

The state ag department offers market improvement retreats in March to help farmers' markets develop marketing plans, solve problems and consider ideas from markets all over the country.

Fifty-two people from 16 farmers' markets have registered to attend the retreats, said Eaton, state farmer's markets coordinator. The retreats March 11-12 at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg; and March 18-19 at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park near Corbin.

Sessions will cover market setup and displays, bylaws and market structure, marked ambiance, developing partnerships, unique ideas, market location and design, advertising and promotion, vendor mix and membership requirements and other topics.

The ag department provides on-site evaluations, one-to-one consultations and resource development as well as educational opportunities to producers, market management and community leaders.

The department also administers the Farmers' Market Nutritional Programs that provide coupons to senior citizens and the Women Infants and Children food recipients that can be redeemed at local farmers' markets. Nearly $450,000 worth of coupons was redeemed in 2003, the first year of the seniors' program.

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