Locavore Lore: A face on food

Demand for local produce helps farmers markets thrive

Apr 27, 2011 at 5:00 am
Fresh Food coming your way.
Fresh Food coming your way.

Farmers markets have sprouted up — 24 of them to be exact — in every part of town, every day of the week. The rising demand for local produce has helped farmers markets thrive, and it has made it increasingly easy for consumers to get fresh local produce with regularity.

It’s worth noting that fresher food isn’t the only reason you can feel good about supporting these markets. The economic benefits are profound. Farmers markets put money directly into the pockets of farmers — more of which is recirculated locally than money spent at national chains. Supporting our local farmers promotes and protects our agricultural heritage. Agriculture has the potential to be a major source of economic development for our region, and small-scale sustainable farming has proven to be a natural fit for the post-tobacco Kentucky economy.

The farmers market experience is unlike your typical grocery store routine. For one, when you shop at a farmers market, you are working directly with the people growing your food. You are essentially putting a face, story and name on the food you eat. It helps the food come to life in a way that is impossible with commercially produced food. You can learn the story of what you are buying — and start to appreciate the weather patterns that deliver your favorite foods. Farmers are usually willing to share tips and recipes for items that may be less familiar.

Farmers markets are also a social experience. They are a place for the community to gather, and they create a sense of neighborly interaction.

Although there are remarkable differences between the conventional system and getting locally sourced food, the biggest adjustment is knowing to expect only what is in season. Contrary to popular belief, tomatoes and other fruits don’t grow year-round, and you will never find a locally grown banana. This doesn’t mean that choice and selection aren’t available at a farmers market. Most shoppers are amazed at how many different varieties of greens, heirloom tomatoes and even radishes are available at any given market. Growing many varieties is not only good for consumer choice, but it also helps the grower by reducing crops’ susceptibility to disease.

Part of the excitement is showing up to the market and never knowing exactly what you will find. You might have an idea if you know what’s in season, but just last week I was surprised with a beautiful bunch of cilantro that was unseasonably early and had evidently “wintered over.” Likewise, sometimes you show up certain that you are going to take home an item, only to find out the weather hasn’t cooperated.

Most food is grown for uniformity and shelf stability. Often picked weeks before it is ripe, commercial produce endures a long journey before ending up on your plate. Consequently, taste and flavor suffer. Produce at a farmers market is picked ripe and sold immediately, which results in a more flavorful product.

Along with the growing demand for fresh food has come increased accessibility for low-income families. Nine of the registered Jefferson County farmers markets are now accepting EBTs (electronic benefit transfers, aka, electronic food stamps), and six of the markets are accepting the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program vouchers.

Check out the listings of registered farmers markets in Jefferson County, including payment types accepted, on page 68. A ripening chart for the Louisville area can be found at www.louisvilleky.gov/healthyhometown under the farmers market section.


Gray Street Farmers Market

400 E. Gray St.

Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

May 19-October

Accepts EBT/debit

Phoenix Hill Farmers Market

Felice Winery Complex

829 E. Market St.

Tuesday, 3-6:30 p.m.

May 10-Oct. 24

Accepts EBT/debit, SFMNP vouchers

Smoketown/Shelby Park Farmers Market

Meyzeek Middle School

828 S. Jackson St.

Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon


Accepts EBT/debit, SFMNP vouchers, WIC program



Bardstown Road Farmers Market

Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church

1722 Bardstown Road

Saturday, 8 a.m.-noon


Crescent Hill Farmers Market

Crescent Hill United Methodist

201 S. Peterson Ave.

Monday & Friday, 7 a.m.-10 a.m.

May 27-October

Douglass Loop Farmers Market

Douglass Boulevard
Christian Church

2005 Douglass Blvd.

Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

April-Dec. 17

Growing Forward Farmers Market

St. Francis of Assisi Church

1960 Bardstown Road

Sunday, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


Accepts EBT/debit



St. Andrew Farmers Market

2608 Browns Lane

Thursday, 3-6 p.m.

May 12-October



Beechmont Open Air Market

Beechmont Baptist Church

4574 S. Third St.

Saturday, 8 a.m.-noon

June 18-September

Accepts SFMNP vouchers

Farmers Market at Americana Community Center

4801 Southside Dr.

Saturday, noon-3 p.m.


Accepts EBT/debit



Fern Creek Farmers Market

Fern Creek Community Center

6104 Bardstown Road

Saturday, 8 a.m.-noon


Jeffersontown Farmers Market

10434 Watterson Trail

Tuesday, 3-6:30 p.m.

Saturday, 8 a.m.-noon

May 21-October



Southwest Farmers Market

Valley High School

10200 Dixie Hwy.

Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.


Accepts EBT/debit, SFMNP vouchers



Broadway Baptist Church Farmers Market

4000 Brownsboro Road

Saturday, 8 a.m.-noon

May 14-September

Oxmoor Farmers Market

Oxmoor Mall

7900 Shelbyville Road

Saturday, 8 a.m.-noon

June 18-October

Rainbow Blossom Farmers Market

3738 Lexington Road

Sunday, noon-4 p.m.

May 15-October

Accepts EBT/debit/credit

St. Matthews Farmers Market

Beargrass Christian Church

4100 Shelbyville Road

Saturday, 8 a.m.-noon

May 14-September

Whole Foods Farmers Market

4944 Shelbyville Road

Wednesday, 3-7 p.m.




California Neighborhood Farmers Market

Victory Park

22nd & Kentucky streets

Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.


Accepts EBT/debit

Old Louisville Farm Works Market

Walnut St. Baptist Church

1143 S. Third St.

Wednesday, 3-6 p.m.

May 11-October

Accepts SFMNP vouchers

Rowan Street Farmers Market

1631 Rowan St.

8 a.m.-noon

June 14-Oct. 25

Accepts EBT/debit, SFMNP vouchers



Norton Commons Farmers Market

9420 Norton Commons Blvd.

Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

April-Oct. 1

St. Francis of the Fields Farmers Market

6710 Wolf Pen Branch Road

Tuesday, 3-6:30 p.m.

Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

June 9-October

Suburban Christian Church Farmers Market

7515 Westport Road

Thursday, 3-6 p.m.