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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eat Local!

Good Foods Market and Café up in Lexington, Kentucky is a worthwhile destination if you are ever up that way. It's a Kentucky-owned food cooperative (with shareholders) and you'll not only find products that you didn't think you could live without, and that might be hard to find, but there are great monthly sales and they support local Kentucky farmers in their offerings. [In shopping there you are also supporting a local Kentucky operation, not a larger, more expensive national food chain that offers many of the same items.] Located off Nicholasville Road at 455 Southland Drive it is open 8am-10pm daily.

Given the distance, it's not a store that we go to often but it's the kind of place that we'll visit several times a year to pick up various products (both botanical as well as food-related) or unusual Kentucky farm offerings (like many varieties of cheeses and meats) or our favorite, very-hard-to-find yogurt indulgence. They have remodeled in the past year and now also offer a great café with a buffet that features a bounty of delectable offerings (their Facebook page details daily menu items). It's worth it just to browse and treat yourself to lunch! [You also don't have to be a coop member but if interested in joining, you will save more throughout the year.]

Long-time Casey County organic farmer Jerome Lange is one of their growers and suppliers and he will be playing his fiddle, as he often does at The Bread of Life Café and other Liberty venues, at Good Foods' "Eat Local Celebration" on Saturday, July 2nd [live music from 11:30-1:30pm, but the celebration goes from 11am-2pm]. It's fun to be browsing the produce section and see "LOCAL Casey County Produce" signs peppered throughout the display area. 

We will profile Jerome and his farm in a future blog post here on GROW Casey County. In the meantime, you, too, can eat local by supporting your local Casey County farmers and driving on over to South Fork Creek. Also, if you have a special July 4th picnic recipe, please feel free to share it here and we'll feature it in future blog posts this summer.

Have a safe and splendid 4th of July weekend and here's a reminder that there will be a 2pm auction at the Casey County Produce Auction on Monday, July 4th!

Friday, June 24, 2011

How Often Do You Hear This Today?

Yesterday I was doing some errands in Liberty and in and around South Fork Creek. I needed some canning-related items (which you can get, in huge selection, out at Misty Mountain Sales) and a card for a friend, and I found both with great ease within a few minutes. And then I saw them: two large gallon glass jars with lids. I remembered I needed some large glass jars to brew some homemade vanilla extract and found myself heading their way on the shelf.  [More on making vanilla another time––even though the beans weren't grown in Casey County, I was able to score some good beans near Casey County––and **Sunny Valley Store will also order them for you!]

Imagine my surprise! $2.80 a jar, including the lid. At first I thought it might be a lid price. I use a lot of glass jars and canisters of all sizes in my pantry at home and had never seen this kind of price before, anywhere. So I brought the two jars to the checkout and asked if this might be a mistake. The woman who works there said, "No, when we get a good deal we like to pass it on to our customers." Wow. My jaw dropped but I wasn't at all surprised. It is the kind of service you can expect from honest business people. I remembered I'd heard that before another time, when the price of a certain bulk food item had been reduced at Sunny Valley Country Store and I wanted to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me. Mervin Hoover had said, more or less, the same thing to us:

"When we get a good deal on something we like to pass it on to our customers."

How often do you hear this today? There is often a huge markup in retail sales but often people in retail get a good deal on something in quantity. They could take that same item and make even more of a profit for themselves. It's business, after all. Who would even know? Who could blame them? However, this one simple and yet profound response to my question describes why we buy as much as we can for our family––produce and dry goods and bulk foods and plants and feed supplies––out among the South Fork Creek Old Order Mennonite community in Casey County. And there are many such businesses in and around Liberty and Casey County where owners are willing to go the extra mile and remember their customers. Remember, it's easier than you think and you might be pleasantly surprised:
Buy Local.

NOTE: **Sunny Valley Country Store (formerly Nolt's) often has glass canning jars available for sale on the front porch of the store. Yesterday they had boxes of six half-gallon jars, with lids and seals, for around $9.00. Last summer I priced the jars, in various sizes, that they had for sale and, are you ready? They were cheaper than the same jars I had just bought at Walmart. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

South Fork Produce: Local Produce

Note the signs: LOCAL tomatoes!

Open on June 17, South Fork Produce is a cooperative farmers' market operated by the Old Order Mennonite community (a similar enterprise is over on 501, near Phil). Located adjacent to South Fork Furniture and next to Hillside Greenhouse and Sunny Valley Bulk Foods, it is easy to find amidst other businesses on South Fork Creek Road. As for the prices, well, they really speak for themselves and it is easy to see why Casey County growers often get business from far and wide––and even from people right around the bend.

Local honey from Philip Kilmer––did you know it's good for allergies?

South Fork Produce will be open through the end of October––Monday-Saturday, 8am-6pm. It is also the clearing house, within the community, for large scale growing operations later in the growing season: cantaloupe, watermelon and peppers are boxed and shipped wholesale to places such as Walmart (who have made an effort, in recent years, to support more locally-grown produce when it is available). If Walmart, of all places, can try to support local growers then we should, too.

Rhubarb, rhubarb! Yes, it's still available.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

This Blog is Your Blog

Old postcard of a family eating watermelon––one of Casey County's greatest exports!

Yes, I'm kind of singing along to Woody Guthrie today in my head: "This land is your land, this land is our land..." I don't even live in Casey County (but I can see Green River Knob rising near us to the west from our knob over here in the western edge of Pulaski County––and we are only an air mile or so, not counting winding country roads, from Mintonville, in the southeast corner of Casey County). But I appreciate all of the fine agricultural offerings and the beautiful rural quality of Casey County. We would have likely bought a farm in the county when we were looking, but this part of the world––not very far away––presented the right place at the right time. Yes, we are transplants but are putting down new roots in your wonderful state.

We do much of our business in Liberty and just as much out in the Old Order Mennonite community in South Fork Creek. We buy our various feeds and bedding, and other supplies from Goldenrod Feeds, our staple food items from Sunny Valley Bulk Foods, and much of our produce and garden plants at Hillside Greenhouse, Homestead Gardens, South Fork Produce, Lavern's and often at the Casey County Produce Auction. There are many other businesses, too, sprinkled about the region that get our business. That is what buying and being (and eating) local is all about.

This blog was started to promote the Old Order Mennonite agricultural-related businesses––who also form the very basis of Casey County tourism––which do not have an internet presence (and neither do they join commerce groups). I soon realized, where do people go, on-line, to find out more about Casey County's great local farms and other offerings, especially throughout the season as things are offered or events held?

Yet this blog is also about the wider produce and agricultural offerings of Casey County that include anyone who grows, raises or sells farm products––or promotes them. It is a work in progress (I still have to post names/addresses of related agricultural businesses, among other things, in the tabs above) and is a volunteer effort. But I can promise that it is your blog, too. Feel free to drop me an email at or leave a comment at any time on this blog as to what you might like to see here over the coming months. I will probably focus more on local farm history and interesting items, or articles, in the "off season," when there are few things available from farms or fields, and more on produce and availability––and events––during the summer and fall months. And don't forget to join the "GROW Casey County" Facebook page for more regular updates and tidbits.

Thanks for reading and please tell your friends to check here, too! In the coming days there will be more promotional rack cards available for pick-up throughout the county.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

See you at the Fair!

There is nothing like a county fair to scream summer––whether it is the carnival rides, the squeals of children, the nicely scrubbed animals or the beautiful produce offerings and craft, canning or baking competitions. And let's not forget the lemonade, assorted fried goodies and corn dogs! Every fair has its own atmosphere and some are more agricultural than others. But there are always certain and reliable fixtures to count upon.

Kentucky has 120 counties and that's a lot of fairs! The Casey County Fair isn't as old as most but it's one of the earliest in the season. This year it will be going on through Saturday, June 11. You may have missed the many beauty competitions and tractor pulls, but there are still more events over the next few days. You can find more information about it here:

Yesterday's editorial in The Casey County News encouraged the fair to be more local in its participation. That's the whole idea of this blog, too: Eat Local, Buy Local, Be Local!

See you at the fair!

NOTE: These photographs were taken at the Hopkinton Fair in New Hampshire in 2007––the annual state fair back where we used to live. I will try to add Casey County Fair photos for next year. And yes, the Tilt-A-Whirl remains my favorite ride of all time.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Early Summer Produce is In!

Some highlights from today's Casey County Produce Auction:

Summer squash were there a'plenty.

Boxes of Georgia peaches scented the auction building!

This box of unusual cauliflower was enticing. Next time...

Three boxes of beets went high! Local cabbage also is now available.

Many local produce stands buy their produce from the Casey County Auction.

There were also strawberries (perhaps the last of the season), pea pods, spring onions and some hanging baskets, as well as flats of peppers and tomatoes. In the coming weeks the auction will only continue to add more of Casey County's best produce offerings––and some from beyond its borders, too.