Planting seeds for the future

Grant Baker
Grant Baker

“There’s nothing local about California.”

Grant Baker, like many of the famers in Knox County, would like to see stores to carry locally grown – as in Kentucky and particularly Knox County grown – produce, rather than produce shipped from as far away as Florida or even California.

Gardening, he said, is becoming a lost art.

“It’s become easier to run to the store and buy a little now than take the time to plant and nurture a crop that will last a long time,” he said. “A large amount of money goes out of the county for produce, and last year the $35,000 brought in through the farmer’s market stayed right here in Knox County.”

Grant Baker, president of the Knox County Farmer’s Market, addressed the Chamber Tuesday at the Knox County Extension Office about the progress the market has made in the last year. In his opening statement, Baker was recalling an ad he had seen recently in a local store. The ad read ‘locally grown in California.’

Last year Knox County hosted its first-ever Farmers’ Market, and its organizers were not expecting much. They expected to start out slow with only five vendors, but ended up with 28 vendors overall. Since its meager beginnings last year, Knox County Farmer’s Market has become a member of Kentucky Proud, Appalachian Proud, and has also been recommended for an award with “Bon Apetit.”

Knox County Farmers’ Market does something a bit differently from that of surrounding counties. Unlike other farmers’ markets, Baker said, Knox County allows other counties to participate.

“It’s a good, welcoming atmosphere,” he said, “and something we want to keep.”

Baker said has noticed truck after truck on its way south to pick up produce, turn around and take it back north.

“The possibility is here,” he said. “If we could organize the farmers well enough in this area, Knox County is a prime location for a produce hub. Trucks could stop here and take our produce back up north.”

The Farmers’ Market, Grant said, is moving forward and making plans for the future. The organizers are hoping to have a permanent  home for the market by next summer. The market now has new payment options, including EBT, WIC, SNAP and even credit cards.

They are also looking for a way to get fresh produce to senior shut-ins. Finally, the Farmer’s Market is looking to purchase a mobile market trailer for next season to also use for educational purposes and create pop-up markets at senior centers and apartment complexes.

“We’re just getting bigger and better every day,” said Baker, “and we plan to continue to keep moving forward.”