August 30, 2006 | By: Aimee Nielson
LEXINGTON, KY.

More than 1,800 Kentucky farmers sell at more than 100 community farmers' markets around the commonwealth each year. Most markets continue in full operation in the fall and provide an excellent resource for fall crops such as pumpkins, gourds, ornamental corn, mums and fall annual vegetables.

“Many of these items are ornamental and are a fun way for patrons to connect to farms in a small way,” said Tim Woods, an agricultural economist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. “Halloween, still two months away, remains the second largest retail holiday behind Christmas. Fall is also just a fun time to freshen up landscapes with locally grown plants and ornamental products after a hot summer.”

Woods said product display is increasingly important for market vendors who sell fall products. Color, variety, creativity and service are some of the key sources of value for market visitors.

“Merchandising, or how you present your product, is an important success factor in any kind of retailing,” Woods said. “Visit other markets, look at magazines or online markets for ideas. Good displays provide lots of information about the products, where they come from, how they are unique and how they might be used.”

In addition to creative elements, good displays have prices of products clearly marked, baskets and cases are organized for visual appeal. And, of course, the vendor also is part of the display, Woods added.

The UK College of Agriculture currently is working with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development to sponsor a farmers’ market display contest for the fall season. The contest is titled “Displays That Sell.” Woods said pictures of displays should be submitted to the KDA by Sept. 30. The top four displays in three regions across Kentucky will receive a cash prize. All community farmers’ market vendors are eligible. The Kentucky Proud logo must be prominently displayed.

County Extension offices have all received information about the contest and they should be able to help with educational materials for the displays and contest logistics. Additional information is available at the KDA Farm Market Web site and from market managers. 

Marketing fall products should be fun and creative,” Woods said. “I encourage people to visit their local farmers’ market this fall to pick up some interesting decorating ideas for their homes. Whether you’re a vendor or a visitor – get involved.”

Contact: 

Tim Woods, 859-257-7270