Farmers prepare for Letcher County Farmers Market

Published: Feb. 27, 2016 at 5:31 PM EST
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June 4th may seem like it's a long ways away, but farmers in Letcher County are already meeting to prepare for their first market of the year. Saturday afternoon, they met at the Cowan Community Center to discuss new initiatives.

It's about more than growing fruits and vegetables. "My circle of friends has expanded, and my love for the mountains, for my home roots," said Nancy Tolle, a Farmers Market participant.

Farmers from Letcher County and surrounding counties wanting to selling downtown Whitesburg gathered for a meeting about their growing, shared tips, and talked about what they're looking forward to the most. "There are a lot of good artists of all kinds of mediums in the mountains and I would like to see more participants with the Farmers Market," Tolle said. Valerie Horn, with Community Farm Alliance, commented, "We are looking at the Farmers Market to be a driver for health, and wealth, in the community."

For one gentleman at the meeting, the Farmers Market is more than a way to make money. " I use that gardening for one thing," Don Maggard, a retired coal miner of 37 years, said. "It helps me to keep my body in physical shape, by walking to the garden, working in the garden, keeps me moving around." Maggard, who is also disabled, and on a fixed income, says the walking back and forth from his garden helps his back. "When you're on a fixed income, the income that you make from the garden helps buy my family needs everyday," he said.

Maggard believes in tough financial times, family gardens can offer relief in many ways. "People, especially in our coal fields, they've lost their jobs," he began. "They can get back into the gardens, and they can at least have something to eat."

The first Letcher County Farmers Market in Whitesburg is also the same weekend as the Seedtime on the Cumberland Music Festival. Farmers Market organizers say they hope the festival will bring more people to town, and they'll be able to participate in both events.