Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 12, 2013

Farm fresh food

Kentucky farmers markets to open soon

Lee Ward
Associated Press

ASHLAND — The Farmers Market program in Kentucky is impressive.

The commonwealth has 147 farmers markets and more than 2,500 vendors, giving more people the chance to eat fresh and local foods and to interact with those who grow their food.

Most of us, however, just want delicious eats that are easy to access, so here’s the scoop on local Farmers Markets.

Boyd County

Lori Bowling, Boyd County Extension agent for horticulture, said this year’s farmers markets will be Wednesdays and Fridays at Fannin Family Motors on U.S. 60 and Fridays in Central Park.

“I talked to Mayor Chuck Charles and he suggested Central Park on Fridays for Ashland’s site,” Bowling said.

Boyd markets will open June 8.

Bowling said she expects more than 30 farmers in the county will participate with 10 or 12 sellers in the peak season.

“The numbers have gone down through attrition,” she said. “Most (of the farmers) are older and have stopped selling or have gotten too old to do it.

“Some sellers only plant certain things and their seasons are up at different times.”

Greenup County

Linda Hieneman, Greenup County extension agent for agriculture, said the farmers market usually opens around July 4, when selection is best.

The market, which will have about 10 farmers, will be in the parking lot of Advance United Methodist Church in Flatwoods on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays starting at 7 a.m.

While Greenup’s market doesn’t accept senior or WIC vouchers, Heineman said they have devised their own way of helping the customer.

“We try to have Customer Appreciation Day in July and have breakfast and health screenings and activities and at that time register people to win farmers market vouchers,” she said, describing them as looking like Monopoly money. “They’re in one-dollar increments that can be used at the farmers market and we try to give away 10 sets of those.”

In addition to the farmers market, Greenup County Judge-Executive Bobby Carpenter has created a place for those who aren’t affilitated with an official farmers market to meet and sell.

Opened last year, the spot near the extension office was created “to get people off the side of the road,” Carpenter said.

“The state was throwing a fit on us and was going to ban them off the road, so we found a place where old 23 and new 23 come together,” he said. “It was grown up with weeds so we found out who owned it and got it and cleaned it up and made a driveway on both ends of it and it turned out to be really pretty.”

The site has a portable toilet and Carpenter said he plans to have a picnic table there so it can serve as a stop for travelers. He said any farmer can use the site at any time to sell produce.

Lawrence County

The market in Lawrence County opens in early July, with a few early sales dates in June, Julie Rollins, Lawrence County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources said.

Sale occur at the farmers market pavillion at the extension office on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing until noon.

She said about 25 farm families attend their market meetings, during which time decision are made about sales times. However, there usually are two or three farmers selling during the week and three or four on Saturdays.

“We were down a little last year, but last year was such a hard year on farmers because of the drought,” Rollins said. “We had a lot of trouble with produce because of the weather and I’m hoping it was all weather-related last year and particpation will improve this year. We have a couple of new farm families this year, so I’m excited.”

Lawrence County’s farmers market accepts senior and WIC vouchers.

Garden Shed Herb Day will be from 10 to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Franks Building on Boyd County Fairgrounds. Cost is $5 including luncheon. Herb of the year is elderberry.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.