Ag Commissioner Ryan Quarles talked about food insecurity in Kentucky.
Hickman County Judge Kenny Wilson presided over the program dedicating a new Farmer's Market in Rotary Park on Thursday, July 13, 2017. The open air market facility opened for business on Saturday July 15th. The facility came about with the support of local and state support.
The program was a series of thank yous to people and agencies that made the project possible. At left, Wilson told a crowd of over 100 well wishers that "ag is king" and that 91% of the county's land mass is devoted to farming. Hickman County is a leader in row cropping of soybeans, corn and wheat. Hickman County boasts a large number of chicken and hog barns. The crops to be sold at the Farmer's Market include none of these but it is anticipated that truck garden farmers will bring their produce to market at the facility.
Located across from Greg's Market, the only grocer store in the county, at the edge of the county seat, Clinton, the market is visible to north south traffic on State Highway 51. Wilson said the first person consulted when property owner Keith Akin offered the land to the county was Greg Godby, the owner of Greg's Market: Where Nice Matters It is hoped that Greg's will benefit from the facility as it offers products not available across the street.
Akin, shown at right, a lifetime member of Rotary International, sold the land to the county for a dollar. Wilson teased that Akin hadn't cashed his check yet. Akin asked that the park be named "Rotary Park."
The pond that makes up a good portion of the land has been a favorite site for fishermen of all ages. Soon after the acquisition of the pond, it was stocked by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture with trout, crappie and blue gill.
A guest of honor at the dedication was Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles who told the crowd that those advocating for the market wouldn't take no for an answer. The Commissioner credited former Graves County Representative Fred Nesler who is now an Ag Department employee as being the "eyes and ears" of the project.
Quarles said that one in five Kentuckians experience food insecurity. "As an agricultural state, we can do better."
Later in the month, he plans an announcement of refrigeration assistance for food banks having trouble preserving the produce they receive from markets like the Farmer's Market.
Norma Pruitt, director of KYGRRO, the tourism and business promotion organization for the Kentucky Mississippi River Counties, announced that $100,000 had been obtained from the federal government that would not have to be repaid.
On Saturday, the real business of selling produce got underway with corn, peppers, homegrown tomatoes and honey being offered by local entrepreneurs. Fresh vegetables to go with freshly caught fish will be on the menu throughout the summer in this rural county.