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Kentucky Is Proud Of Its Farmers Markets

Photo Courtesy Fort Thomas Farmers Market

Kentucky is known for several things: horse breeding, bluegrass music, bourbon, and fried chicken. The state also has historically had a thriving agricultural business. In 2022, it set a record of $8 billion in cash receipts from the sale of crops and livestock. 

There are more than 69,000 farms in Kentucky, and the majority of them are small.

Since 2002, Kentucky Proud has helped to promote Kentucky’s agricultural world through various programs — the University of Kentucky’s baseball stadium is named Kentucky Proud Park — including the state’s 170+ farmers markets.

Here is a quartet of marketplaces that the Bluegrass state can gush about.

Bluegrass Farmers Market

The Bluegrass Farmers Market (BFM) resides in the Bluegrass State’s second-largest city, Lexington. You find it in the parking lot of Hamburg Liquor Barn (1837 Plaudit Place) on Tuesdays (2 to 5 p.m.) and Saturdays (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) from April through October. BFM ranks as Lexington’s largest 100% homegrown produce market. 

Everything you come upon there — from soaps to hot sauce, herbs to eggs, cheese to pork, potted plants to woodworking — was raised, grown, baked, or made in Kentucky.

Of course, you’ll also encounter a variety of seasonally fresh fruits and vegetables there. In fact, the farmers market was voted in 2022 as having the best produce in Lexington.

Photo Courtesy Bluegrass Farmers Market 

Hardin County Farmers Market

Situated in the central Kentucky city of Elizabethtown (200 Peterson Drive), the Hardin County Farmers Market (HCFM) is another highly regarded Bluegrass State farmers market, having been named one of the “Best in KY” by Kentucky Living in 2022. An area institution, this operation has been up and running for over 45 years. 

This producers-only market has around 30 local growers as members, with anywhere from 15 to 30 vendors assembling for a marketplace.

HCFM’s season is from April to October on Saturdays (7 a.m. to noon). During the winter months, farmers market and friends events happen once a month. 

To celebrate HCFM’s 2024 opening, representatives from the Hardin County Conservation District gave away 2,800 tree saplings to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. The operation also celebrates its community with a Customer Appreciations Day during National Farmers Market Week in August.

Photo Courtesy Hardin County Farmers Market 

Fort Thomas Farmers Market

The Fort Thomas Farmers Market serves residents of Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati regions. And it serves them well, too, having been voted the area’s top weekday market for two years running. 

“We’re passionate about bringing better food to our community and forging relationships between our farmers, vendors, and customers,” Tiffany Tomeo, farmer market manager,  explained to Garden & Health.

“Our mission is to stimulate public interest in the support of local farms and vendors by providing a place that offers freshly grown produce, agricultural products, handcrafted items, and scratch-made goods.”

This operation not only provides a great opportunity for area farms and vendors, but it also offers a place for local businesses, nonprofits, and musicians to showcase themselves. Every Wednesday from mid-April through mid-December, the market takes place on Wednesdays at the historic Mess Hall — what a perfect spot for a market! — in Fort Thomas’s Tower Park (801 Cochran Ave.). Its hours typically are 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., although the closing hour extends to 7 p.m. during June through September.

Photo Courtesy Fort Thomas Farmers Market 

Berea Farmers Market

2024 marks the Berea Farmers Market’s golden anniversary. At 50 years old, it is Kentucky’s second-longest-running farmers market. In fact, the founder, Bill Best, is still a vendor and a board member. 

Berea, located around 40 minutes south of Lexington, takes great pride in being a growers-only market and doesn’t take this distinction lightly.

There is no reselling of produce at the market. Farmers must have raised or grown whatever they are selling. All vendors of baked goods or other value-added items must have a Home-Based Processing Certificate, demonstrating that the products were made in the vendor’s home. Similarly, meat vendors must be certified, too.

Photo Courtesy Berea Farmers Market 

The Berea Farmers Market’s enthusiastic local focus is reflected in its events. Beyond supporting local musicians, the operation has also teamed with Berea Eats, a local United States Department of Agriculture Child Nutrition Program, to hold workshops promoting nutrition, wellness, and household food security. 

This year-round market occurs on Saturdays at the Chestnut Street Pavilion (635 Chestnut St. Pavilion) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesdays (as advertised on Facebook) from 3 to 6 p.m. April to October and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. November to March.

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