Location changes, the addition of a “fresh food truck,” a collaboration with the EKU Red Barn Garden and Orchard and increased promotion have combined to make this the best year ever for the Madison County Farmers Market on the EKU campus.
This fall’s market continues every Thursday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., through September at Irvine McDowell Park on Lancaster Avenue just north of the campus.
At the height of the summer market, in the Alumni Coliseum lot, more than 400 visited, compared to a top count of 100 the previous summer.
“This weekly event has truly grown organically,” said Tammy Cornett, coordinator of communications for the University’s Human Resources office. “Last year, being inside campus with limited parking really kept visitors to those who could easily walk over. The goal of the wellness program is to provide as many wellness opportunities for our employees as possible.”
The attendance increase this year has also doubled the amount of participating farmers.
“If we continue growing, that is more opportunity for our employees to have healthy local options right here on campus,” Cornett said. “Every farmer brings something different. At one time, every farmer had a different variety of corn on their table.”
Visitors can also expect a wide variety on the “fresh food truck.”
“Chef Tim Engle shops with the farmers early in the week and creates a menu around what is in season and at the height of flavor,” Cornett noted. His creations have included smoked beef brisket tacos, hand-dipped corn dogs with fresh cornmeal, hand-cut french fries made from freshly dug potatoes, three-green salads with fresh citrus dressings, stuffed peppers and eggplant lasagna. In addition, a vegetarian dish is always available.
The collaboration with the EKU Red Barn and Orchard has also proven popular. The facility, near the Ashland Building, is a hands-on learning tool for horticulture students in the University’s fruit and vegetable production program.
“Being part of the farmers market on campus allows the students to see what other farmers are doing to market their products and allows them the experience of marketing their produce to the EKU/Richmond community,” said Dr. Cody Domenghini, assistant professor of horticulture. “The collaboration has been great for everyone involved.”
The more visible market locations have attracted more visitors from the community.
“The community has supported the farmers tremendously,” Cornett said. “It is really neat to see an employee meet up with his or her spouse and kids for lunch and a playdate at the park.”