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As the Hardin County Farmers Market begins its season, vendors are out to sell farm-fresh products and customers are ready to find local produce.
Lois Strader sold jams, relishes and wooden products Saturday morning. Later in the season, she will have vegetables, fresh fruits and, “the good Lord willing,” fresh figs, she said.
Everything sold at the market has to be raised by farmers or bought from a market member, she said.
She said the benefit of buying from a farmers market is shoppers know the produce’s origin.
“People can actually come to the farm and see where their food comes from,” Strader said, adding store produce can be shipped in from as far away as Mexico.
The connection to the consumer also is important, she said.
“We will have consumers come up and say, ‘My grandmother used to make green tomato relish,’ therefore, I make green tomato relish,” she said.
Customers tell Strader what their families used to make and she tries to accommodate.
Some customers come back and say one of her products was the best they ever ate. Others are honest and say she shouldn’t continue making some products, she said.
Strader has learned if it’s not something she would eat, she doesn’t bring it to the market.
“If it doesn’t sell, I’m the one eating it anyway,” she said.
Strader works for a local doctor and many patients ask her about the market and anticipate its season.
Bob Adams came Saturday with his family to stock up on herbs for their garden and to buy local produce and flowers. They live close to the market and shop there several times a year.
Adams used to be a chef and understands how a farmers market offers a sense of community.
“Any time you’re getting things that are local and coming from the local soil and local rain, it makes a big difference in your health and how you eat,” he said.
Adams said something pulled out of the ground yesterday is better than something coming from 2,000 miles away that’s been chemically treated for shipping.
“It makes a big, big difference,” he said, adding eating produce that’s in season and local always is better.
Jennifer Hardin was helping Sassafras Farms with homemade cookies, soap and eggs in its booth.
The eggs they sell are different from what someone buys in a store because customers can know what the 30 chickens on the farm are fed, she said. These chickens are not caged, but are free to roam about an acre of property, she said.
Hardin said it’s important to support farmers in the community and see the variety of items for sale at the market.
Penny Miller of Elizabethtown was shopping Saturday with her husband and grandson. She hoped to buy strawberries because she liked the ones she bought last week, but vendors were sold out.
“They were very good,” she said.
Miller comes to the market several times during the season when she’s low on produce. She thinks fresher produce is better.
“We know the cabbage has been picked yesterday or today instead of being hauled around on a truck, and we like to support the local farmers and economy,” she said.
Her grandson enjoys coming to the market with them to be with his grandfather.
“He likes to come out and help his Papa Phil,” she said.
Joanna Hinton of Hinton’s Orchard in Hodgenville was selling fresh items with her son Jacob, 9. Their products vary throughout the year, but asparagus is their main produce right now. Hinton adds fruits as they are in season, such as apples, peaches and blackberries. She also had fresh-baked goods, plants and flowers for sale.
“At this time of year, people are hungry for fresh produce,” she said.
The family has a market at the farm in Hodgenville, but the farmers market is a good way to get to know customers in the Elizabethtown community, she said.
“It’s a nice connection to our customer base,” she said.
The market, at 200 Peterson Drive in Elizabethtown, is open from 7 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through October.
For more information, call 270-862-9509.