|By TIM THORNBERRY
FRANKFORT, Ky. — A series of summits concerning agritourism and farmers’ markets are being planned by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) and are scheduled across the state as a way to provide information to producers wanting to boost their businesses.
“Several Kentucky farmers have opened their farms to visitors to help make up for the loss of tobacco income,” Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer said. “These summits will give them information that will help them run their businesses successfully.”
The summits will take place simultaneously to help producers and participants benefit from both areas while being in the same location.
“We are gathering the resource people together at one time and putting them to work for more than one industry with one trip,” said Janet Patton, KDA’s farmers’ market coordinator.
“The state training folks are sending a business trainer to the summits who will offer a workshop to the farmers’ market participants in the morning and other workshops in the afternoon to the agri-tourism participants.
“The workstations will be open to all so they can work one-on-one on their particular issues or concerns.”
Farmers’ market summits
The first day of each two-day summit will be dedicated to helping farmers’ market managers enhance their management skills.
Workshops include: conducting effective meetings, managing conflict, conducting effective promotional campaigns, working with the media and other subjects. Presenters will work with producers on topics such as pricing strategy, market rules and customer service on day two of the summit.
Workstations will be set up on both days for participants to work on labels for value-added products, selling honey, organic and sustainable production, retail meat sales and other topics.
The farmers’ market summits will be Feb. 17-18 at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Feb. 24-25 at General Butler State Resort Park, March 10-11 at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park, and March 24-25 at Lake Barkley State Resort Park.
Presenters will include staff from KDA, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and the state Office of Governmental Training.
The Governor’s Office of Agricul-tural Policy will have a workstation at each summit to help participants apply for farmers’ market grants as well. Regional health inspectors will instruct participants on health department rules.
Terry Spears, vice president for advancement at Pikeville College, will speak at the Jenny Wiley summit on working with the media. Clark County producer Sheila McCord will offer direct marketing hints for produce and aquaculture products in the Saturday session of the General Butler summit.
Preregistration is required no later than one week before the summit that a participant wishes to attend. The registration fee is $15 per day, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch each day.
To register, or for more details, contact Janet Eaton by phone at 502-564-4983 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Each summit will begin at 9 a.m. local time and are scheduled for Feb. 17 at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, Feb. 24 at General Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton, and March 24 at Lake Barkley State Resort Park in Cadiz.
Workshop topics will include: Happy Employees Plus Happy Visitors Equals Success: Effective Employee Manage-ment; Keeping Your Customers Happy ... and Coming Back for More: Handling Customer Com-plaints; Making the Most of Your 15 Minutes of Fame: Developing Media-Savvy Practices; Getting the Word Out About Your Agritourism Operation: Successful Promotional Campaigns; and Developing Effective School Tours (offered only Feb. 24 at General Butler.)
The Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy will make a presentation on the Agritourism Competitive Grant Program. The summit will conclude by breaking into five workstations from 4-7 p.m.
Topics include assistance with grant program applications, Internet training and extranet registration, product labeling, value-added ideas and food-safety issues.
The fee for each summit is $15. The fee covers a continental breakfast and lunch. Participants must preregister before each summit in order for a meal count to be taken. To request a registration form or for more information, contact Kelly Ludwig, director of the KDA’s Division of Agritourism at 502564-4983 or Kelly.Ludwig@ky.gov
Overnight accommodations are available at each site. Guest rooms are available for $39 per night plus tax.
For reservations, call the park where you wish to attend (Jenny Wiley at 1-800-325-0142, General Butler at 1-866-462-8853 and Lake Barkley at 1-800-325-1708) and mention that you are attending the agritourism summit.