Horticulture News: Farmers Market Week gets underway today

By Kim Cowherd Published:

It’s Farmers Market Week!

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack proclaimed Aug. 5-11 as National Farmers Market Week. This special week kicked off in Frankfort with proclamations from Mayor Gippy Graham and County Judge Executive Ted Collins during the Friday Night Concert at the Old Capitol Lawn this past week.

Since 2000, when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) first proclaimed National Farmers Market Week, the number of farmers markets across the country has grown an estimated 160 percent from 2,863 in 2000 to more than 7,500 in 2012. As these numbers increase, farmers markets are bolstering local economies, improving community health, and bringing diverse groups of people together through a shared social space.

Farmers Markets across the state of Kentucky produce more than $7.5 million in revenue for more than 2000 farmers. Kentucky has 138 farmers markets. Go to http://bit.ly/N901cn for the Kentucky Farmers Market Directory and check out some of these markets.

Farmers Markets are important to make fresh nutritious food available to more people. The farmers associated with local markets across the country donate hundreds of thousands of pounds of unsold, fresh produce to food banks, shelters, and other social service agencies.

Your Franklin County Farmers Market participates in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program and other food outreach programs locally. This nutrition program provides coupons to WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), Senior and SNAP/food stamp program recipients, so all Franklin Countians have access to fresh, locally grown and produced, healthy foods. The Market also takes debit cards as well for your shopping convenience.

TAKE TIME TO LEARN

Farmers Markets are a place to learn about where our food comes from. When you shop the Market, often the person you are buying from actually grew, produced, managed or harvested the food or product. Take the time to talk to these people behind the tables: ask questions about when was the item picked? What methods do they use to make the product? And how far did the item have to travel to the Market?

There are often new varieties of vegetables or other items available. Ask about these as well and don’t be afraid to purchase some to take home and try. Jalapeño pimento cheese, green tomato bread, lemon rosemary muffins, zucchini chutney, orange cauliflower, white eggplant, tomatoes that are green when fully ripened, blue potatoes, heart-shaped tomatoes – these are items you may not find on any regular grocery store shelf. Explore and sample what we have available from our local farms and vendors.

Some of the items that are available at the Franklin County Farmers Market during the next week include: beef, bacon, Italian sausage, dairy cheese, breads, cookies, muffins, jams, jellies, spreads, farm fresh eggs, honey, handmade soaps, apples, vegetables of all sorts, watermelon, herbs, blackberries, cut flowers and flower arrangements, and native plants. Some items are only available on certain days, and some items may be in limited quantities. Lunch is now grilled up for purchase also to take home or eat while sitting on the benches that line the Market. Shop early and shop often.

The Franklin County Market has information available to customers on product availability and special events. There is a weekly email newsletter during the Market season to let you know what is available that week at market. Sometimes recipes, poems or other tidbits of farming life are included.

You can email FranklinCountyFarmersMarket@gmail.com to be placed on the email list. Also the Market has a Facebook page. You can search for Franklin County Farmers Market and become a fan of the Market. Photos and additional information can be found there.

VOTE FOR THE BEST

I also would like for you to vote for the Franklin County Market in the “America’s Favorite Farmers Market” campaign. Log on to www.farmland.org/vote and vote for your favorite Farmers Market. The Franklin County Market was in the top 20 nationally in 2009, and currently is in fifth place in the state for this year. WE know Franklin County Market is the best, now let’s show everyone else in the country!

Come on down to the Market and thank our farmers and producers for providing us with fresh, locally grown and produced foods and products to enjoy. When you shop at the Market take your time, slow down, and enjoy the rich sights, sounds and smells of Kentucky Proud, farm-fresh, locally grown and produced foods and products.

The Franklin County Farmers Market is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, 7 a.m. until approximately 1 p.m. Also you can visit in the afternoon on Wednesdays, when the Market is open from 3-6. The Market is under the green pavilion at River View Park, on the corner of Broadway and Wilkinson, next to the railroad trestle.

Contact the Franklin County Extension Office if you have questions about the Farmers Market or local food issues. Phone 695-9035 or email Kim.Cowherd@uky.edu.

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