Kentucky Certified Farm Market Program connects farmer to customer
Kara Keeton, Director of Commodity Marketing at the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, serves as the coordinator of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Certified Roadside Farm Market program. Kara explained to attendees at AFBF Rural Development Conference in Louisville in May that the program helps farmers market their farm fresh produce, meats, plants, and value-added products directly from roadside markets to consumers across Kentucky. The program began in July 1996 in order to help farmers market their fruits and vegetables directly from roadside markets at their farms to consumers across the Commonwealth. Since then, the program has expanded to include farm enterprises like greenhouses, landscape nurseries, Christmas tree farms, vineyards/wineries, livestock operations, fiber markets, and meat/cheese farm markets. Members, identified by the program’s cornucopia logo, are provided collective advertising, promotional items, educational tour opportunities, and other marketing benefits with the intent to increase net farm income.
Markets certified through this program are listed in the online Certified Roadside Farm Market Directory, which is searchable by county, zip code, or on an interactive map. In order to be accessible to more people, the directory is also available in a printed format that includes a Kentucky map with numbers designating each roadside stand. The 40,000 maps printed each year are color-coded by region to make searches easy, and includes detailed information on each farm, contact information, directions to get there, whether group tours are offered, and which products each roadside stand sells. The Kentucky Harvest Calendar clarifies when each product is in season.
Kara publishes a quarterly newsletter (Spring 2011) to keep members updated on member news, marketing options, tourist signage, grant funding, business services, and events coverage, which can also be listed on the Kentucky Department of Travel’s industry site. Each newsletter highlights a member’s success story, as well as other Kentucky agricultural updates.
Each summer Kentucky Farm Bureau hosts a multi-state annual Summer Roadside Farm Market tour. “The Summer Roadside Market tour is a great opportunity for our market members to be together,” said Mark Haney, President of Kentucky Farm Bureau and a Roadside Market member. “Traveling on a tour bus learning from each other and seeing what other states are doing at their farm markets is of great value to our members.”
Each roadside market member receives a 3’ x 3’ cornucopia logo that they must display at their farmstand. The logo brands each of the 100 markets as having fulfilled the safety and collaborative requirements that support the program. Each member must be a Kentucky Farm Bureau member, have a permanent structure, have a clean safe farm market, support and promote the Roadside Farm Market Program, and be a farm-oriented business with a focus on the sale of locally grown products and/or agritourism activities focused on educating the consumer on the role of agriculture in Kentucky.
Kentucky Farm Bureau recognizes the value of this popular program as it is a way for Farm Bureau to help their members offer a better farm experience to the consumers. “Making that connection between the market and the consumers is what is really important,” states President Haney of the program.