This article originally appeared in the Barbourville Mountain Advocate.
By: Irma Gall
Hurray, we did it! We had a very successful 2014 season Farmer’s Market in Barbourville each Thursday evening from June through October as far as the growers were involved. So a celebration was a must. We had an enthusiastic group of people meet at the Knox County Extension office on Thursday [of course] November 12th for a celebration meal. There was such an air of accomplishment and fellowship that we came away with an upbeat feeling ready to do it again next year. The Farmer’s Market is now an organized group with local officers ready and willing to begin in 2015. The Farmer’s Market was sponsored by Grow Appalachia, the Knox County Extension Office, Lend-A-Hand Center, Union College, the Spread the Health Appalachia program, Barbourville Tourism, the Knox County Health Department and the University of Kentucky. Many thanks to Paul Baker for allowing us to use his parking lot.
The weekly Thursday evening Farmer’s Market was a success beyond expectations. There were at least twenty vendors and the weekly buyers made it all worthwhile. The local musicians and the grilled food certainly added to the festival feeling. The Farmer’s Market was a part of Grow Appalachia which Kathryn Engle and volunteers coordinated.
The 2014 goal for Grow Appalachia [GA] was to involve twenty families in growing and harvesting family gardens. Seventeen of the twenty-five families developed gardens on their own property with eight families having plots at Lend-A-Hand, at Dewitt Elementary School and near Union College. There was also a GA garden behind the jail tended by inmates and staff.
The garden produced over 5,000 counted pounds of produce. I say counted because even though we were supposed to keep an account of all food raised, there were many meals of fresh vegetables on our tables and fresh food eaten right in the garden that didn’t get counted, but really counted. Some of the families were happy to share their produce with neighbors and family members and still had extras to sell at the Market, selling around $3,000 worth, of the over $33,000 total sold throughout the year.
Even though we were to keep account of the benefits from this program, there is no way to put down a number for the better health gained from both the eating of fresh produce or the better health gained from the exercise of the gardening. However the enthusiasm seen and felt at the celebration meeting did exhibit a very positive account for whom those statistics are so important.
So, of course, “a tip of the hat” to a successful program in Knox County. Based on this success and the number of community contacts and supporters developed this past year, we do plan expand the GA program in the coming growing season. Last year we had a participant walk ten miles to participate. Needless to say, he had a successful year.