Owsley Farmers Market Debuts Kentucky Arts Council Initiative, ‘Homegrown Handmade’
Owsley County Farmers Market will debut “Homegrown Handmade” as part of its 2017 grand opening June 3 in Booneville.
“Homegrown Handmade” is a result of a grant the Kentucky Arts Council received last year from the United States Department of Agriculture to incorporate and maximize the arts in two Kentucky counties at well-established farmers markets.
“A lot of people are really excited about this,” said Glenn Baker, community education director for Owsley County Schools and one of the local organizers of the grand opening.
“We’ve never had a farmers market with artists before, and there’s a lot of potential this may bring us in the future. One of the main things we learned at the very beginning was that farmers and artists have a lot in common,” added Baker.
The market opens at 8 a.m., but guests can enjoy live music and browse products by local artists beginning at 10 a.m. In addition to farm products and art for sale, the farmers market will feature live music by regional musicians and free food provided by the Mountain Comprehensive Health Center Farmacy program, another partner in the Owsley County Farmers Market.
Artists will also be demonstrating their methods, including presentations on knife making, spinning wool into yarn, crocheting, knitting and mixed media art.
“We’ve got great Owsley County farm products, wonderful art ranging from photography to woodwork to fiber art, fascinating demonstrations and fantastic regional music acts,” Baker said. “We’re creating a welcoming atmosphere not just for Owsley Countians, but for families looking to take a short road trip for a day that features a little bit of everything.”
The project began last summer when the USDA awarded the arts council a $51,000 grant to conduct the program in Owsley and Ohio counties. The arts council has worked with partners to coordinate workforce development in both counties to examine local cultural amenities, provide consultation to address sustainability at the markets, and offered trainings on business development and agritourism.
“This investment in training the farmers and artists in Owsley County to market their products creatively will spill over into the overall quality of the farmers market there,” said Lydia Bailey Brown, arts council executive director.
“It’s a cascade effect. The vendors improve their presentation, the market becomes more attractive, everyone who participates gets excited about that and tourists want to find out what’s creating all the buzz. The bonus is that the vendors – farmers and artists – can take those new skills to other markets they participate in, not just their own farmers market,” added Brown.
The nearly yearlong process has been educational for farmers and artists in Owsley County, Baker said.
“One of the main things we learned at the very beginning was that farmers and artists have a lot in common, a lot more than they thought they did,” Baker said. “For example, when both of them set up a booth to sell their wares, they have to design it in a certain way to be appealing to customers.”
Baker said one of the farmers even commissioned a local artist to design a new sign for his business.
Owsley County Farmers Market will feature artists once a month from June through October.
(story provided by Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet)