|By TIM THORNBERRY
LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — Kentuckians enjoy the luxury of plentiful farmers’ markets across the state with one of the most unique located in Anderson County known simply as the Depot.
The structure once stood in the center of town and was used as the railroad depot since its construction in 1889 but when it was scheduled to be torn down it was purchased by local radio station owner and entrepreneur Michael Davenport, who donated it to the city.
The building was eventually relocated to the busy Highway 127 Corridor just north of town to be used by the Anderson County Farmers’ Market Association. Thanks to funding from the State Agricultural Development Board to the tune of $55,000, the market opened in 2002.
Since then, the market has been visible to an estimated 15,000 commuters each day and has served the area as a place to get fresh produce, beautiful flowers and regional crafts.
Naomi Hedder is a craftsperson, who has worked and sold at the market for the last three years.
“I think the flowers out front draw visitors to the market, and then they are pleasantly surprised once they’re inside to see all the produce and crafts,” she said. “Customers always comment on the old building and I just love it.”
Arlene Burris is a Lawrenceburg resident new to the local market but has started shopping there because of family ties to farming.
“I’ve only been three times but I come here because it is a farmers’ market and my grandparents were farmers,” she said. “I used to work on the farm and I want to help the farmers.”
Farmers’ Market Week
This market is one of nearly 100 located across the state bringing local produce to literally hundreds of thousands of residents while providing a means for farmers to diversify operations and conveniently reach the buyers.
Kentucky recently celebrated Farmers’ Market Week by way of a proclamation issued by Governor Ernie Fletcher as requested by state Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer.
“Farmers’ markets enable producers to get full retail price for their products,” said Farmer. “They give consumers the chance to meet the people who grow the food and to get the freshest foods money can buy. Everyone wins.”
Helping senior citizens
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has provided support for markets around the state through its Kentucky Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).
The program has gained market access for farmers and provided improved nutrition for low-income families through a coupon program enabling them to have better access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Seniors like Sara Edge and Vernon Riley of Frankfort are now able to enjoy fresh produce more often because of the program.
“The coupons help me get my vegetables and fruits that I normally can’t get,” said Edge. “I don’t have much income, so they really help out.”
Mr. Riley was able to buy four sacks of cantaloupes along with other vegetables on a recent trip to the Frankfort Farmers’ Market. He paid for the food with his own money supplemented by the coupons.
“The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program benefits seniors, producers and our state as a whole,” said Commissioner Farmer. “The coupons enable senior citizens to buy tasty, fresh produce and maintain a healthy diet.”
The Frankfort market has participated in the program for three years and in Louisville, the Commodity Supplement Food Program warehouse participates as well. Across the state, 41 more markets are involved in the federally supplemented program, which received $251,661 for the seniors’ coupons this year.
Growers can sign up at the KDA website to become involved in the program. Local senior centers, Commodity Supplemental Food Program distribution sites and county Extension offices distribute the coupons to seniors, which may be used at any state participating farmers’ market.
Once the growers receive the coupons, they turn them into the KDA for reimbursement.
State markets posted sales of $5.4 million last year and promise to be a dominant economic force for state farmers for years to come.
For information on the senior coupon program, contact Jessica Anderson with the KDA Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program at 502-573-0282. For information on the Anderson County Farmers’ Market, contact Dennis Cantrill at 502-859-4845.
Published in the August 31, 2005 issue of Farm World.