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.

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.