Last year the Kentucky Market Maker team criss-crossed the state teaching farmers and consumers about this new program. We joked among ourselves that we would speak to any group of three or more people!
Kentucky Market Maker is a free, online, searchable directory for food from the farm to the store. It has listings for all the farmers’ markets, restaurants, retail groceries, processors, wholesalers and most importantly farms that wish to sell their products directly to consumers and restaurants. All the listings except individual farmers’ markets are from a purchased database; it is up to individual farms to register themselves.
Farms that were already enrolled in the Kentucky Proud program were entered into the system, but we strongly encourage those farms to check their listing and improve or maintain their profile.
Registration for farms is free and extremely easy to do. If you do not have access to a computer, you can use one at any public library or your local county Extension office, where agents can help with the process. The most important part of the registration form is the box titled “Additional description of your business or product(s)”. This area allows farms to market themselves to potential customers by describing their operation in more detail. Text such as “we are fourth-generation farmers”, “all our products are pesticide-free”, etc. help to entice customers to purchase from your farm.
Another great feature of the program is the demographic and business data that the user can search. You can search for groceries or restaurants to sell to, where the highest concentration of a particular ethnic group lives for special products or where the highest concentrations of families with children are for an agritourism event. The details of these types of searches can be summarized on a map and are easier to understand than just lists and statistical tables.
The Kentucky Market Maker team meets monthly to continually improve the Web site and plans to conduct a survey this spring to help their effort. We are working on a Buy-Sell Forum and password-protected listings so farms can change their listings.
We have already conducted demonstrations at the Kentucky Horticulture Conference and the Bed & Breakfast Association of Kentucky annual meeting and plan to hit the road again this year giving demos and training sessions anywhere we are asked to come. So take a look at Kentucky Market Maker online, www.marketmakerky.com, and look for us out on the road.
The Kentucky Market Maker project is made possible by a unique partnership among the following public and private entities that have joined forces to promote and enhance Kentucky’s local food economy by linking farmers to consumers: University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy, and Allied Food Marketers.