May 19, 2004 | By: Laura Skillman
PRINCETON, Ky.

Community farmers markets are opening their stands earlier and adding products and customers thanks to additional food processing and voucher programs.

This will be the second year that home-based processed foods can be sold through the markets. Jams, jellies, apple butter and baked goods containing horticultural products can be sold once their vendors have registered with the Kentucky Cabinet of Health Services.

“We will see more of those products this year,” said Janet Eaton, a marketing specialist with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Anyone wanting to sell salsas, pickles or canned items must attend a microprocessor workshop conducted by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Since classes began in August 2003, 100 farmers have completed the home-based microprocessor training, said Sandra Bastin, UK Extension food and nutrition specialist. Several hundred have registered as home-based processors to make low risk items like jams and jellies.

Once they complete the workshop training, participants must have their recipes approved and register with the state Cabinet of Health Services which ensures they have proper water and sanitation. Then, they become registered microprocessors. About a dozen people have completely finished the process, she said.

Based on the participants in past trainings, Bastin said she expects to see a wide variety of products on the market including everything from mustard to pickled okra to tomato juice.

“I think there are going to be some neat things out there,” she said. “I’m very excited.”

This year, Bastin said she thinks there will be more of the home-based products such as jams and jellies with lesser amounts of microprocessed products. Many microprocessors may take this year to evaluate the market and determine what niche they may provide, she said.

Microprocessors and home-based processors are required to have there registration with them when they are selling their products, Bastin said.

In her work with farmers’ markets, Eaton said she’s seen a number of markets deciding to open earlier than in past years selling bedding plants and greenhouse products along with early produce such as peas and broccoli as well as processed foods.

“The Extension Service has done a wonderful job educating producers on how to extend their markets on both ends,” she said.

Bastin said she believes the trend will be to open earlier and stay open later, and some markets may open around Christmas to provided jams, jellies, pickles and other products.

“It expands the market with good quality products that are safe,” she said. “I think within two to five years, this will truly be a value added income to farmers. It’s wonderful Kentucky has the vision to do this.”

Two voucher programs will be in effect again this year in various markets across the state. One is the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the other is the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, Eaton said.  Check with your local market to determine if it participates in either of these programs.

Communities across the state continue to want farmers markets, Eaton said. But there aren’t enough growers and many markets are trying to attract additional growers. To date, 93 markets have registered with the KDA which provides them with free Internet exposure and makes them eligible for other KDA programs.

Application forms for home-based processors are available from the county health department, county Extension Office or on-line at http://chs.ky.gov/publichealth/Food-Program.htm. Instructions are on the application form. The process is free.

 For microprocessing, an application form and $50 application fee must be made with to the Cabinet for Health Service, farmers must attend a workshop and have their recipes approved. Workshops are $50, including lunch. Farmers must attend the entire workshop and pass both exams to complete the training. Questions should be directed to Bastin at 859-257-1812 or email sbastin@uky.edu.

The next microprocessing school is May 24 at the Meade County Extension Office. Another one is scheduled Nov. 3, as a pre-workshop with the Women In Agriculture meeting in Louisville .

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Contact: 

Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278
Source: Sandra Bastin, 859-257-1812; Janet Eaton, 502-564-4983 ext. 235