News of Seasonal Produce Offerings, Auctions, Events, Agritourism and Farmers in Casey County, Kentucky ~ and the Old Order Mennonite & Amish Communities ~ located in the scenic Knobs Region and agricultural heart of Kentucky.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Have a Blessed Holiday Season!

We wish you all the joys of the holiday season
and the bounty that life offers you.

We are taking a bit of a break here for the holidays and will be posting any upcoming items of interest on our Facebook page: so make sure to friend us at "Grow Casey County" [our 150th and 200th Friends will also receive bountiful gift baskets of Casey County products, if before or during the holidays!]

We will certainly return in the New Year, if not before, with more on Casey County's agricultural and local offerings and stories of interest.

In the meantime if you need to reach us, please email at

Many thanks to you all for your support in our first year!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hettmansperger's Haunted Corn Maze

A large barn provides a sitting area,
warmth and something to eat.
A friendly, but odd, old witch
told our fortunes before we entered.

We had so much fun tonight at the Haunted Corn Maze at Hettmansperger's Greenhouse. I just wanted to plug it for Monday, Halloween, as they are open one last night from dark until the last brave hobgoblins plan to venture through it. It's a great compliment to your Trick-or-Treat activities or even in lieu of them (our boys are at the age where this was the perfect alternative). Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for ages 12 and under (those in costume this evening get $1 off admission).

Don't go in the corn!

Located on the Casey County-Pulaski County line, on Highway 837 south in Mintonville, owner Jay Hettmansperger and his family have created a great family-friendly, old-fashioned attraction in the emergent trend of agritourism. Most of their visitors this month have been families rather than the groups of teenagers they were initially expecting and Jay added that the recent coverage in The Casey County News had brought in so many families and groups. During the spring and summer, the greenhouses offer a variety of locally grown flowers, tomatoes and other vegetables. This year the family planned a haunted corn maze for October and planted the corn in early July so it would still be somewhat green.

I was kind of sweet on this fellow and he kindly posed for the camera.

They are already planning next year's maze and have been pleased by the response to this year's––mostly from Casey County residents, Jay said. It's a great family-friendly outing, with a few fun scares in the corn, but nothing gory or too over the top as you might find in a haunted house with more elaborate special effects. In fact, the back-to-basics special effects––like what you might find in a low-budget, but somewhat scary, movie––were a delight and offered innocent, harmless fun.

A crescent moon hovered over the farm and corn maze and the early evening was not too cool. My husband and boys got a cup of cocoa (there are other concessions, also) and we chatted a bit in the warm and cozy barn. We left quite giddy and even well-exercised: the maze is about 1.25 miles long and brings you up and down the hillside corn patch gradually. Believe me, if this out-of-shape old witch can walk it, most people can. We can't wait until next Halloween to go again!

Come back during the day for a variety of mums or next spring for
great homegrown vegetables and flower plants for your 2012 garden.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

End of the Season Offerings

Turnips at the Casey County Produce Auction–and Paul Hoover holds some
of the many kinds of apples available at Hillside Greenhouse & Produce.
LAST produce auction of the season: Thursday, October 27 at 5pm

Lots of apples, and unusual varieties, are still arriving
at Hillside Greenhouse and Produce!

501 Produce is still open for business.
This year's sorghum crop is now boiling at Oberholtzer's Sorghum Mill.
You can still find pumpkins, too, in time for Halloween or winter canning.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

PROFILE: Bobbett's Naturally Grown

In southeastern Casey County, just off Hwy 837 several miles north of Mintonville, Bobbett Jascor raises several kinds of garlic, sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), a variety of summer berries and assorted produce on her 45 acre farm. While not certified organic, like many area produce growers Bobbett's methods are natural and sustainable. She moved here in 2004 from New Jersey and has transformed her acreage into a self-supporting enterprise. She admits, somewhat drolly, that it's a very different lifestyle than the seventeen years she spent selling real estate.

'Elephant' garlic in the middle, 'Cherokee' hard neck on the right and 'Inchelium' (soft neck) on the left.

Currently, garlic is the farm's mainstay crop and this year there is a softneck ('Inchelium') and 'Cherokee' hardneck variety for sale, as well as the larger-sized 'Elephant' garlic. The larger bulb sections are planted in October. Any time now is fine and some people plant here into November: some even advise planting garlic in the period of the waning three-quarter moon, which this month is October 19, but Bobbett doesn't follow those practices. She is a practical gardener and said she would worry too much about getting it in at the right time. 'I get it in the ground when I can,' she adds. She will then preserve the smaller cloves for winter eating: by dry storage or mincing the garlic, mixing in a bit of olive oil, and freezing it into small, usable ice cube-sized portions. 'You can also pickle the cloves whole,' she said. [Just Google ways to preserve garlic and you will have many methods and ideas to choose from.]

For more garlic preserving and planting tips from Bobbett, click here.

Like many enterprising Kentucky farmers, Jascor has learned how to grow crops that will adapt to the climate as well as increased customer demand. 'Most of my customers come through the internet but I also have many local customers.' She also mentioned that next year she will be offering 20 varieties of garlic and is currently planting those for her 2012 harvest.

A large original tobacco barn on the property has become the perfect place to store and dry her garlic harvest which usually takes place in July. The long, green curling scapes come up sooner and many garlic aficionados enjoy those in pesto and other recipes. Others take the small garlic corms and plant those to get one solid garlic bulb the next year which sheds its corm in a cycle of growth. Bobbett said that one customer likes to buy just the korms to put up so she doesn't have to fuss with individual bulbs.

Garlic is an ancient plant valued for its medicinal and culinary properties. In this part of the Appalachians, we have a wild member of the garlic family right in our lawns and fields (also known as 'onion grass')––if you leave it long enough, you will get a bulb growing in the cooler months. There is nothing like pungent fresh garlic. One easy recipe for roasted garlic is to take a garlic bulb ('Elephant' is especially good for this), cut off the top part, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and salt, wrap in foil and roast it in the oven at 400 degrees, papery skin and all. In about half an hour you can scoop out the roasted garlic flesh which has become sweetened by the baking process: it is good spread on bread, crackers or stirred into mashed potatoes.

'Sunchokes,' aka Jerusalem artichokes, will soon be ready for harvesting.
You will also find these growing along Kentucky roadsides and fields.

Next year, in addition to her extended garlic varieties, Bobbett will be offering a variety of berries to the public. She prefers that you call ahead for the best availability and cautions that, as she grows and harvests everything almost entirely herself, there might not be the supply one might expect. But she will work with requests with advance notice.

This year's garlic crop is going fast so call 606-787-0926 or Friend 'Bobbett's Naturally Grown' on Facebook or email Bobbett Jascor at to reserve your winter stash. She also has an on-line store at LocalHarvest.Org where you can read more about her farm, her growing practices and her offerings.
We recently bought some of her garlic for planting and some for eating and look forward to our own garlic crop next year. If you are patient, it is one of the easiest things to grow and like so many edible plants, it provides the gift that keeps on giving in the garden.

Bobbett's Naturally Grown
106 Country Way (about a quarter mile from Hwy 837)
Liberty, KY 42539

Future produce offerings at Bobbett's Naturally Grown
will include kiwis and currants and other heirloom varieties.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall is In Full Season at Hillside Greenhouse and Produce

Hillside Greenhouse and Produce, in the large red-roofed log cabin tucked up on the hill behind Sunny Valley Country Store, is now bustling with visitors from around the state and county––and even tourists from further away.

Paul and Verna Hoover built the log cabin showroom several years ago and now offer produce year round––much of it locally grown––in addition to their other plants and greenhouse items in season. 

Currently there are many local pumpkins, squash and gourds available and over fourteen varieties of apples (mostly imported from New York state) including Cameo, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Golden Supreme, Granny Smith, Jonagold, MacIntosh, Mutzu, Red Delicious, Rome, Stayman WinesapWolf River and Yellow Delicious. Verna told us today that another large shipment of apples is due into the store on Saturday, October 1st.

The Stayman Winesap apple is one of the very best apples for anything and also a good keeping apple.

There is always a changing array of colorful––and affordable––mums outside of the store. Big pots of vibrant mums are a sure sign of fall and the lingering colors that they offer, 
long after seasonal frosts, are a delight to many.

Local Jack-be-Little pumpkins, 2 for $1 (any size): you can stuff them to eat or decorate with them!
You can't beat local sugar "pie" pumpkins for baking, canning and decorations, especially at that price.

Hillside Greenhouse and Produce is open year round, Monday-Saturday, from 8am-5pm, and is located on South Fork Creek Road, within three miles from route 910 in southern Casey County. [606-787-4509]

Hillside Greenhouse is conveniently located on the hill above Sunny Valley Country Store, also open Monday-Saturday, featuring an in-store deli and bakery, many locally made items and an extensive offering of bulk foods.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September Song

Tomorrow is the first official day of autumn and it seems to have arrived here in south-central Kentucky with all of its delights and offerings. This following was shared by Joberta Wells, a regular columnist for The Casey County News and a regular 'hoot.' She returned to Casey County in 1994 after being away for over three decades. It's a great place to come back to, or to move to, that's for certain. Joberta writes:

'Years ago every little community in Casey County, Kentucky had a correspondent for The Casey County News. They collected tidbits of happenings from their areas and submitted these news items. You knew who got married, who had a baby, who died, who went to Lexington to see a specialist (a doctor with more training and education than the local general practitioner), whose cow broke through the fence into a neighbor's corn field, etc.

The correspondents for Yosemite, KY were sisters named **Wauda Coffey and Jesse Anderson. These ladies engaged in rather florid prose but occasionally they got it just right. In the September 22, 1949 edition of The Casey County News they reported the following':
The countryside is taking on the richness of autumn. Almost all the tobacco is in the barns where one sees the long leaves turning to pale gold. September has been perfect for curing the crop and for making the fall hay. Mowing machines are busy and fields are dotted with green bales, or bordered with stacks, and barns are being filled. Cornfields are brown and look a month later than the calendar says. Nature's flower garden is bright with goldenrod, purple ironweed, and many other blossoms. Buds of the summer farewell are opening instead of waiting for October to call them on the stage. It's a lovely time to be living.'

**Yes, she really was a woman named 'Wauda' –– I had changed it to Wanda, thinking it a type-o and Joberta nicely reminded me not to do that!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Glorious Garlic Grows in Casey County!

Garlic at the Hopkinton State Fair,
September 2007, Hopkinton, NH
I have yet to make a visit to Bobbett's Naturally Grown Garlic farm in Liberty but did want to mention here that they are having a special offer for the month of September only:

  • If you place an order for $25 or more, not including shipping, she will include $5 in free garlic. Place an order for $50 or more, and she will include $12 in free garlic.

Click on the above link that will take you to Bobbett Jascor's Facebook page for additional information. You can also email her at or call at 606-787-0926. If you live locally you might be able to avoid shipping by arranging to stop at her farm [located at 106 Country Way in Liberty, KY]. Currently she offers three varieties––Elephant, Cherokee and Inchelium––but is excited to report that she will have 15-18 total varieties next year.

Bobbett says that for long-term use the 'Elephant' garlic stores the longest (and it is is the biggest). Ranked second is the soft neck 'Inchelium' variety, followed by 'Cherokee.' A $25 order, with the September special, would give you, for example, 4-5 bulbs of 'Elephant' and about 10 each of the other two varieties (or any combo of 20 bulbs).

Preserving and Planting Tips from Bobbett:
'For LONG term use (throughout the entire winter) we usually preserve our garlic in one of two ways: you can peel, pickle and can the individual cloves and then rinse them before use if you don't want them so vinegary. Otherwise, if you like to cook with garlic, we peel and mince all of the cloves and then mix them with oil. We pack them into ice cube trays and put the solidified cubes into a Ziplock freezer bag. We use one or two whenever we want to cook, sauté or fry with oil and garlic.
For long term FRESH storage, you need to provide temps around 50 degrees and high humidity. Most fridges are too cold, and root cellars tend to be too warm (in KY). But if you can find some place with those conditions, most garlic will last 7-10 months. Our 'Elephant' garlic lasts through the winter just being left alone in an unheated room.'
For PLANTING: Plant in Kentucky in October for a summer harvest the next year. Here is more detailed information on-line about planting garlic. If you want to plant them in containers like I do (such as using the galvanized cattle tanks made by Tarter Gate in Liberty, KY), Bobbett adds: 'Give them at least 6" spacing and good drainage. They'll require at least 1" of water a week during the growing season.'
We've also learned that Bobbett's Naturally Grown also sells sunchokes (aka Jerusalem Artichoke tubers) in October either for planting or eating and in the summer many different kinds of berries: black, red, purple, and yellow raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, and currants, as well as small quantities of fresh seasonal vegetables. [I've been looking for a currant grower, as well as more gooseberries, so this is great news.]

More information is available on our 'Places to Buy Local' page, above, or click here. This is an area of the blog that could always use your input and updating, too, so if you know of a Casey County farmer who sells produce or other agricultural or animal-related products to the public, please let us know! We'll be happy to include them, and/or in the 'Bulletin Board' section, free of charge.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Local Fall Festivals and Events

Among many fall offerings at the Casey County Produce Auction.

There is so much to do in and within an easy drive of Casey County––in fact, all of Kentucky––in the autumn months. So many offerings celebrate the season and agricultural bounty of Kentucky while others are fun, historical or just a great reason to be outside with your family. September and October provide a perfect opportunity to enjoy the region in the cooler, more temperate, months, before a quieter winter. With higher gas prices, too, what better way to 'get away' than by doing something in your own backyard?

An early autumn scene along South Fork Creek in Casey County.

Here are some highlights of several fall festivals and events, with links where available. Make sure you click on those for additional information or ways you can help [If you know of other related agritourism events or activities in the next few months, please let me know and I'll include them here]:

The annual Galilean Children's Home Benefit Quilt Auction brings
in handmade quilts from around the country and region each year.
Penn's Store is undergoing an extensive restoration after the
devastating May 2010 flood which impacted much of Casey County.

All manner of livestock are auctioned each year
at the 501 Casey County Benefit Auction and Sale.
Some of the many homemade Mennonite baked goods that are always available
at the 501 Casey County Benefit Auction and Sale, held this year October 29th.

Additional events and happenings are listed at the Liberty-Casey County Chamber of Commerce website. You can also check the excellent Tour Southern and Eastern Kentucky calendar for more information on fun things to do not too far from home.

We will also be updating our GROW Casey County Facebook page with other events as they might come up. If you're on Facebook, consider Friending GROW Casey County for more regular updates, links and interesting bits of agricultural and local food-related information.

~ Also, a note that the Casey County Produce Auction has returned to their regular Monday, Wednesday and Thursday schedule through September: 2pm on Monday and Wednesday and 5pm on Thursday October will have a further altered auction schedule: please check above link.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grapes Available at 501 Produce

The Casey County grape season is short because of the heat but it is
possible to get bushels from out of state through local produce dealers.

The Burkholder family, who operate 501 Produce and Wholesale [9409 KY 501 South] in Casey County want readers to know that they are taking Concord grapes from the Northeast on order, and will have some available in their stand, for mid-September. If you are interested, the price is $16.50 a bushel or $8.25 a half-bushel. They will have blue and white varieties. Stop in at their produce stand or call 606-787-8362

There are many easy ways to make and can your own delicious grape juice [I find using a steam juicer, available at Misty Mountain Sales on South Fork Creek, to be the easiest method]. We used to have Concord grapes back in New Hampshire and I would make luscious grape jam each fall, when our grapes were usually ready in early October. Grapes have a lot of natural pectin and cook up nicely in a jam––my method avoids having to separate the pulp from the skins.

501 Produce is run as an Old Order Mennonite produce cooperative, similar to South Fork Produce on South Fork Road. Both are seasonal businesses where you can purchase produce at retail (and some wholesale) prices. The family also packages a wide variety of seeds––both heirloom and hybrid varieties––and sells them at area stores, including their own.

Hours and other information are posted here. The Hoovers are also taking orders for out-of-state grapes, pears and peaches at Hillside Greenhouse and Produce (606-787-4509)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lady Liberty

I saw a reference to this poster today on someone's Facebook page –– it just seemed relevant to Casey County (and I have an interest in World War II-era Victory Garden propaganda). The City of Liberty, of course, is at the center of county government and most commerce and yet not its agriculture or tourism. And liberty as a value is central to all we value in the United States of America: freedom, self-determination, free will. It is at the core of our democracy and our human rights and our right to worship as we please. It is our right to bear seeds! [OK, so I was just getting a bit too, well, soap-boxy there for a moment.]

Everything that goes around seems to come around again in society. Here we are in harsh economic times where we will likely have to become even more sustainable to feed ourselves, just as in the Great Depression of the 1930s and during World War II when Victory Gardens were part of the war effort at home. Now, more than ever, with debt ceilings and world economic collapse––not to mention the high price of gas––we need to look more local to where we shop, what we eat, and what we grow. As my grandmother, a midlife farmwife herself, used to say: 'The pendulum is swinging back again.'

Kentucky's own Wendell Berry wrote: A community economy is not an economy in which well-placed persons can make a 'killing'. It is an economy whose aim is generosity and a well-distributed and safeguarded abundance. An advocate of family, family farms, and the importance of community, he has outlined seventeen tenets for successful rural communities. Here are some of them (you can read them all here):

  • Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth?
  • Always include local nature - the land, the water, the air, the native creatures - within the membership of the community.
  • Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbors.
  • Always supply local needs first (and only then think of exporting products - first to nearby cities, then to others).
  • Develop small-scale industries and businesses to support the local farm and/or forest economy.
  • Strive to supply as much of the community's own energy as possible.
  • Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community and decrease expenditures outside the community.
  • Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, and teaching its children.
  • Always be aware of the economic value of neighbourly acts. In our time, the costs of living are greatly increased by the loss of neighbourhood, which leaves people to face their calamities alone.
  • A rural community should always be acquainted and interconnected with community-minded people in nearby towns and cities.
  • A sustainable rural economy will depend on urban consumers loyal to local products. Therefore, we are talking about an economy that will always be more cooperative than competitive.

Reading the agrarian writings and poetry of Wendell Berry always cheers me, but here's the silver lining to all of the doom and gloom out there: ask yourself what you and your family can do locally in your own community to make a difference to your local economy. What can you buy or what business can you patronize where you don't have to travel more than 10-15 miles, or out of county, to do it? We all need to go further afield when necessary, or just to get out of Dodge, but so much is in our own backyards or right down a pleasant county road.

So give me Liberty and give me 'maters! [With apologies to Patrick Henry.] In Casey County it is quite possible to have both.