The Letcher County Farmer’s Market has had a successful summer. We’ve hit a definite slump in produce production, but all still feel positive about the potential for continued growth and the prospects for next season. Cowan Community Center and Grow Appalachia have continued to provide tents and tables, scales and resources for the grower to easily sell each Saturday morning by 8:00 a.m and continue to do us until the last Farmer’s Market which will hopefully end with a bang and assure the community we will be back next year even stronger. I wanted to share pictures and an update of the happenings at the market this summer. We will work harder on planning next year to try to accommodate this slump and bring in new growers. We’ve also tried to make the market a pleasant family stop each Saturday morning as well, by having art and music incorporated into the market. Thanks for taking time to look at our Farmer’s Market.
I’ll begin with David Fisher, Grow Appalachia Field Coordinator, he was an anchor of the market providing produce weekly from Fisher Farms. His herb were a huge hit early on and he continues to bring produce weekly. David also was one of our participants who early on completed the micro-processing training and has had his kitchen certified, submitted recipes to Frankfort and also sells canned items at the market. David and his wife, Kaye are in the process of opening Ralidroad Street Mercantil and plans to carry fresh produce in his store along with canned items. He plans to get his commercial processing ccertification later this year. David is a former oil well worker and has worked hard through Grow Appalachia to find another means of income for his family and a change of lifestyle.
Maggard Farms provided much of the anchor for the market as well. Don Maggard, pictured with Jayden, one of his three grandsons who came each week with his daughter Abi. Don has a sister who has been involved with the Cowan Community Center from the beginning, but Don had never been actice in our community is now a regular at the center. Don, along with his nephew, Andy, a young man dedicated to gardening were our largest bean suppliers and sold out up to ten bushels each on the Saturday’s they could provide them. Don and Andy have been both active from the beginning in the planning for the market and are strong members. Abi’s son’w will often pitch in and carry a basket home for their customers and whatever needs to be done. Don’s garden has not had anything the past two Saturday’s but he and his family are one of the first there and last to leave to help with taking tents and tables down. Don and his grandson visited the 7 Springs farm with us and he plans to grow more next year as we come back stronger.
Kelli Haywood an active participant in the planning of the Farmer’s Market doesn’t bring produce, but product. She sells deoderants, suave and scents from herbs she grows on her farm. Kelli often comes with her three children and much interest with her products for the market. Kelli also sometimes writes articles for the Daily Yonder, an on-line publication that is the effort of Rural Strategies. If you are not familiar with this organization or their publication, I suggest checking it out. Their scope is not unique to Letcher County but in addressing and focusing on common issues that affect all rural communities. Please see the attached link to see her latest publication which highlites the efforts of the Farmer’s Market and documents the need for such in our community. Grow Appalachia and their support is referenced in the article.
Tom Meyers with Natural Systems, a transplant to the area but dedicated to incorporating his hydroponic gardening has diligently set up each week to talk with customers about filteration and almost any organic gardening project out there. Pictured above are supplements he either sells or gives to those interested in learning more. We are planning a meeting with Grow Appalachia participants soon to learn more about his projects and we know there is a connection to be made with Grow Appalachia.
The Dollarhide farm have brought produce many weekends. Logan Dollarhide, GA Intern along with his sister Autumn Dollarhide grew their own garden this year for the Farmer’s Market. Apples and potatoes were a weekly staple and they both want to grow more next year Pretty impressed with teenagers who want to garden for extra income.
Jeff and Sharman Chapman Crane, local artists have been regulars at the market displaying their art work and supporting the market. Jeff and Sharmin plan to be participants in Grow Appalachia next year.
Debra Fields, local artist and instructor at Cowan Creek Studios and friend of Grow Appalachia did a workshop one Saturday for the Market. Customers had the opportunity to gather produce, create a still life and paint a picture with expert help.
My project for the morning. I was not only happy doing it, but happy with the outcome. Thanks!
Many others have kept the market successful. GA participants Bill and Darlene Spears along with Mike and Leisha Hampton brought produce as their garden provided. Alice Craft and Gayno brought fresh eggs weekly, and I’ve discovered eggs are important for generating the return customer. Crafters w/their art made the market more interesting. Musicians passed the day quickly, sometimes invited, sometimes just showing up and staying a while. We connected with the bee keepers association and honey was a sweet commodity. Jams and jellies always sold out. We’ve got plenty of room to grow but a dedicated crew. It will happen. Good luck with your own markets for those of you who are involved with that.