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, 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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lots of Casey County Produce

It is bumper crop time for Casey County melons and a lot of other produce now coming into local farmstands and also sold at the Casey County Produce Auction (where you can personally buy, or sell, lots large or small).

We'll let these photos, shot at the Monday, August 15th auction, speak for themselves!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Smile! It's Still Summer!

From the beautiful row of sunflowers growing along the roadside at the edge
of the Shirk's vegetable garden on South Fork Creek Road, near Goldenrod Feeds.

Even though the summer heat and humidity seem relentless, in less than four months we'll likely be complaining about the cold while missing the fruits of summer. Already on the roadsides the Joe Pye Weed and Ironweed are emerging––these are the beautiful weeds of late summer. It's coming.

So enjoy the flowers while you can. Did you know that sunflowers follow the sun throughout the day and turn their faces towards it? I always thought they were named for the way a child might draw a sun. Either way they're smiley, happy flowers. In the fall if you leave some or all of your flower heads out, the birds will enjoy them. What they don't take will drop and self-sow for the next year. Next spring, after the ground has warmed, if you don't like your 'volunteers,' just wait until they are a few inches tall and move them where you want them. They transplant well when small.

It might not even be too late to plant some sunflower seeds in pots or in the ground for late fall blooming. They look great with pumpkins and hay bales and there are so many varieties for cutting or just enjoying in the garden. Stop over at Hillside Greenhouse on South Fork Creek (behind Sunny Valley Country Store) for some local Burkholder seeds and other offerings.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Produce Auction Now on Saturdays, too

Just a reminder, and some recent photos, that the Casey County Produce Auction has started holding additional Saturday produce auctions, at 2pm, in addition to their weekly auctions on Monday & Wednesday (also at 2pm) and Thursday at 5pm.

Jay Weaver situates a palette of fresh local corn, bagged by the dozen.
A display ear of Butter and Sugar corn.
A palette of Roman beans that the grower said can be eaten whole.

Fresh-picked wild blackberries await a sale.
Mt. Stripey Heirloom tomatoes
Their additional Saturday produce auctions will continue through September 3, over Labor Day weekend, after which time auctions will be held three times during the week. This additional auction day is to accommodate the large amount of produce coming in now at the height of the summer growing season.

Also, save the date of Saturday, October 15 (starting at 9am) for their second annual Consignment Auction (participants keep their earnings after portion is given to the auction house). On Saturday, December 17 (at 9am), the last auction of the year, there will be a special Christmas Craft auction.

This is only the beginning of melon season in Casey County
which stretches well into September.

More details and important updates will be posted here at GROW Casey County, as needed, as well as on the 'GROW Casey County' Facebook page. If you haven't yet 'Liked' us on Facebook, please do. You will get more regular and timely updates, links and news about related information to Casey County agricultural news, as well as related news around the Commonwealth (these updates are also posted on the column at right for those not on Facebook).

Monday, August 1, 2011

Yard Salers, Bring Your Coolers!

Casey County Produce Auction will hold two
of their four weekly produce auctions on 
Thurs, August 4 at 5pm and Sat, August 6 at 2pm.
If you are hitting the Highway 127 Yard Sale held August 4-7 this year, make sure you bring a cooler with you to pick up some delicious Casey County produce, farmstead cheese and other items. Hwy 127 wends its way right through Casey County from north to south in central Kentucky. The stores in the South Fork Creek area are not too far off the beaten track and a pleasant short drive from SR 501 at Highway 127, just a few miles south of The Bread of Life Café (a good place to grab a meal on route). There are many signs to guide you and there is always a large yard sale set up at SR 501 at Hwy 127.

If coming from Hwy 127, you will see Lavern's Produce Stand on the left at the end of South Fork Creek Road, at SR 910, and as you drive down South Fork Creek you will come upon several stores and produce markets. Not far from SR 910 is Misty Mountain Sales and Casey County Produce Auction. A few miles along the road is South Fork Furniture, South Fork Produce and Sunny Valley Country Store (with Hillside Greenhouse and Produce on top of the hill above––both stores are air-conditioned, too).

If you continue out to the end of South Fork Creek past Sunny Valley Country Store and follow the signs, you will come to Zimmerman's Farmstead Cheese (about seven miles from SR 910). Please note that all of these stores and produce stands are open every day but Sunday, and generally 8-5pm or 6pm.

The shelves of Sunny Valley Country Store are always well-stocked.

Brooms sold at Sunny Valley are made
by a local Old Order Mennonite man.
Sunny Valley Country Store offers many basic bulk foods at an affordable price as well as gourmet or more unusual ingredients. There is also an in-store bakery and a deli where they will make you a sandwich to order. Misty Mountain Sales, its sister store down the road, also offers household wares and many items that Old Order Mennonites purchase regularly including fabrics, hats, and items of clothing. You can also purchase handmade Old Order Mennonite quilts and other handcrafts at Misty Mountain Sales or South Fork Furniture, as well as Amish-crafted furniture from Ohio.

Make room for melons! These Casey County watermelons
await their sale at South Fork Produce, a farmer's produce cooperative.

Be sure to pick up a free 'GROW Casey County' postcard at one of several area vendors 
and tell them you heard about us on this website. Then send it to a friend!

NOTE: For a good all around article on the Old Order Mennonite Community (and information on The Bread of Life Café, which doesn't seem to have a website at present), I recommend Angela Oldfield Osborne's website/blog, Save My Small Town and this particular entry [Click HERE].

You can also download a brochure/map on Old Order Mennonite businesses in the South Fork Creek area of Casey County here, courtesy of the Liberty-Casey County Chamber of Commerce.