While National Farmers’ Market Week ends Saturday, Hardin County residents have been encouraged to continue to support local markets if they can for as long as they can.

“We encourage Kentuckians to support their local agriculture community by visiting a farmers market this week,” said Ryan Quarles, commissioner of agriculture.

Quarles said there are 167 individual farmers markets among 115 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

He said because of COVID-19 and quarantine measures, individuals are spending more time cooking, which means shopping for more fresh ingredients.

“It’s so important that the community get behind the local agriculture scene,” Quarles said.

He said the Kentucky Department of Agri­culture supports all farmers markets in the Commonwealth.

There is a full-time staffer that assists markets in the department. The department also helps fight for money for upgrades to markets in the state including buildings.

Quarles also said the department also helps markets connect with different programs that Kentuckians use to buy food, including EBT, senior farmers market vouchers and other social assistance.

“Hardin County is known for being a community that supports their local agriculture,” Quarles said.

He also said Hardin County is one of the state’s top-producing counties in terms of livestock and grain production, and said it is home to many great agricultural leaders who explain exactly what farms do and how food travels in the system.

Brenda Thomas, president of the Hardin County Farmers’ Market, said certain activities had to be canceled this year because of COVID-19 during Farmers’ Market Week.

She said while the market has been busy this summer and has been a good year for the vendors, they don’t want to make the market more populated than it already is.

“There still been plenty of customers coming for the produce and some of the vendors are still happy without the extra activities,” Thomas said.

Thomas said there have been more customers who have come this year that had not previously visited the market.

She also said food at the market is in-season and picked fresh.

“It’s always going to be better at the farmers market because it’s usually picked within 24 hours. It’s not trucked halfway across the country,” Thomas said.

Among the others markets in Hardin County are ones in Riney­ville, Rad­cliff and Vine Grove.

For information go to kyproud.com/farmers-markets/.

Andrew Harp can be reached at 270-505-1747 or aharp@thenewsenterprise.com.

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