November 3, 2004 | By: Aimee Heald-Nielson
RICHMOND, Ky.

Fall displays of mums, pumpkins and straw bales line the downtown streets of Richmond and Berea for the second year. Farmers, store owners and city and county officials hope this will help the communities “Fall in Love with Madison County.”

John Wilson, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Madison County, worked together with Rita Smart, family and consumer sciences agent to get the project started last year.

“The Richmond and Berea area is the seventh largest area of tourism in Kentucky,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to expand on agritourism in the area with something that is beneficial to the farmers and the cities.”

Farmers produced pumpkins and straw and seven nurseries produced more than 1,000 mums for the storefront displays which cost $55 each. In Berea, the city paid for half the cost of 100 displays, while businesses paid for the other half. In Richmond, the city footed the entire cost for 85 displays

Mike Land owns Hillcrest Nursery in Madison County. In the last few years he’s added pumpkins to his enterprise of nursery crops, trees and corn. For the third year, Land has invited groups and individuals to his 300-acre farm to pick pumpkins, find their way through a corn maze and take hayrides around the farm as a way to incorporate agritourism into his enterprise. “Fall in Love with Madison County” has given him more exposure and created some new clients for his business.

“It is providing a means for area farmers to sell their products locally,” he said. “It makes the local community aware of what the county people are doing. Last year, a lot of the merchants were absolutely amazed that everything came from the county.”

Land said up to this point, the focus of the project has been only the downtown areas of the towns, but he hopes it expands to include other areas in the future.

“Most of the retail in Richmond is now around the bypass area and we need to involve them in the future,” he said. “We need to be a community that supports the community, keeps it local and patronizes local people.”

Tammi Warren and her husband operate Warren Farm Greenhouses. In years past, they grew about 60 acres of tobacco. These days the tobacco production is down to about 20 acres and three tobacco greenhouses have been converted to nursery crops. This year Warren was one of the nurseries that provided mums for the “Fall in Love with Madison County” project.

“It keeps the money in the county with cities buying from local farmers,” she said. “This year we sold double the amount we did last year. People see the displays and ask where the stuff came from and they end up coming to my business to get their own.”

Wilson said the street and sanitation departments in Richmond and Berea worked hard to set up each display, sometimes starting as early as 2 a.m. He said he’s happy to see that it’s working so well and he’s encouraged by the diversification efforts of the farmers.

“We’ve got a lot of farmers in the county that have converted tobacco greenhouses to bedding plants in the spring and things like mums in the fall,” he said. “We need to always be looking at what resources we have and what opportunities we have to sell our products.”

Contact: 

Writer: Aimee D. Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: John Wilson 859-623-4072