By Jennifer Moonsong
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
Friday the Metcalfe County High School Leadership group gathered at the Extension Office to take a tour of various agricultural destinations in the county for Agriculture and Environment Day.
Ag Agent Brandon Bell spoke to the group before they embarked on their tour. Bell said that agriculture is traditionally thought of as the production of food and fiber.
“I think of it as much broader than that,” Bell said. He discussed how everything from the grocery stores to farm fuel and tires are part of the growing and harvesting process.
The group also discussed how Metcalfe County was one the most agriculturally diversified counties in the state, with pumpkins, poultry, pigs, dairy, beef, blueberries, hemp and burley tobacco all being grown here.
In fact, Kentucky is the largest producer of beef east of the Mississippi.
By show of hands, each of the 16 students indicated they either lived on a family farm or had grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins who do.
“One advantage you have over kids raised in an urban area is knowing your food was raised in a greenhouse or on a farm when you go to the grocery store,” Bell said.
Following the discussion at the Metcalfe County Extension Office, the group toured various agricultural and environmental destinations, including Valley Fertilizer, the Metcalfe County Recycling Center, a dairy farm, a horticultural farm, and the Metcalfe County Farmers’ Market.
The market aptly demonstrated how diverse the county is. Handmade soaps, local honey, flowers, fruits, vegetables, crafts, hot peppers, and alpaca products were on vendors tables.
The market, first established in 2007 has grown substantially over the past 12 years.
A walk-in cooler, an office space for the full-time market manager Rose Saltsman, and other amenities have been added.
In the very near future, the market will grow again when the current pavilion is enclosed for a commercial kitchen and culinary classroom, and an updated market is established. The renovation is a $400,000 project.
This will be a great advantage to vendors who do not have access to a commercial kitchen.
One such vendor, Ken Childers, of Valley View Orchard already has a commercial kitchen but is pleased for the other vendors and the growth.
Childers’ orchard now supplies five local counties’ school systems with apples.
“That’s 6,000 lbs. a year to the school system,” he said.
With the young leadership group’s interest in agriculture and environment, all signs point to Metcalfe County’s lengthy heritage in farming continuing well into the future.