August 22, 2011

Farmers markets are more than just places to find fresh, local produce. The best markets are involved in their communities, provide a wide variety of agricultural products and create an inviting public gathering place. They are also organized in a way that makes participating farmers' experiences positive.

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture is partnering with Central Kentucky Ag Credit, the Kentucky Farmers Market Association, and the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference  to sponsor the AgGenius Awards for Kentucky's farmers' markets and fruit and vegetable growers. The awards include contests for  Kentucky Farmers' Market of the Year ,  Agricultural Innovations,  and  Wine.

For the Farmers' Market of the Year awards, which carries cash prizes of $300 for first place and $200 for second for both urban and rural market categories, markets must self nominate by Oct. 1. Markets must have been active in 2011. The entry includes a checklist of best practices and space to highlight the markets' special features. Markets should also submit pictures of the market, top vendors, customer activity, special events and community connections. To enter, the market must be registered with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and must be defined as an organized marketplace that has a prescribed location where two or more producers gather on set days and times to sell products they grow or produce directly to consumers. The market may allow other types of sales, but the primary business of the market must be agricultural products grown or produced by the sellers. Contest forms are available at http://www.kentuckyfarmersmarket.org.

The Agricultural Innovations award will recognize a market grower who has built labor-saving equipment of their own design, modified existing equipment to make their job better or come up with an innovative way to handle the unique aspects of field production facing market growers. Contestants should submit photographs and a clear description of the innovation. Video footage is welcome as well. The awards for this contest, which has a  deadline for entering of Dec. 1, are $100 for first place and $50 for second.  Contestants are welcome to bring their innovative equipment to the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference, Jan. 5-6, 2012. Winners will receive free registration to the conference. Mail or e-mail entries to John Wilhoit, University of Kentucky Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department, Lexington, Ky. 40546-0276 or jwilhoit@bae.uky.edu. For more information e-mail or phone Wilhoit at 859-257-3000, ext. 208.

The Wine award will focus on labeling and packaging of wine. It is open to licensed wineries in Kentucky. Two entries will win cash prizes of $100 for first place and $50 for second place. First and second place winners will also receive one free registration to the 2012 Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference. To enter, wineries must submit a bottle of wine, complete with label and other standard packaging that accompanies the wine at retail locations. The wine must have been for sale during 2011 and must be produced and labeled in Kentucky.  Deliver or ship entry to Patsy Wilson, UK Extension Viticulturist, N318 Agriculture Science Center, Lexington, Ky. 40546-0091. For more information on the wine award, contact Wilson at 859-494-1657 or e-mail patsy.wilson@uky.edu.

First and second place winners in each competition and division will receive a cash award, plaque or trophy, recognition in a statewide news release, feature recognition in Ag Credit Leader magazine and recognition at the 2010 Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference.  For more information about the AgGenius Awards program, go to http://www.AgCredit.com .