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Farmers market flourished despite pandemic;
Saturday is final day of season

As the growing season comes to an end, so does the Boyle County Farmers Market. And despite the unusual spring and summer involving the coronavirus pandemic, the market flourished.

This Saturday will be the final day for the market, rain or shine. Farmers will be selling the last of the produce from their gardens, along with fall favorites like gourds and flowers. Some will also have their homemade jams, jellies, sauces, and cookies and breads, said market director Jeff Jewel. And as usual, cattle farmers will be selling beef, and others will be offering fresh eggs and local honey.

“We’ve also got quite a few craftsmen,” Jewel said, who will have their jewelry, art and wood crafts at the market.

However, even though the regular outdoor market season is ending, plans are being cultivated for a November holiday market, some pop-up markets and possibly a Christmas market, Jewel added.

In May, when the market first opened, the average sales for the month was $3,100, with about 200 customers and 14 vendors, Jewel said.

But September’s average total sales doubled to $6,000 with about 350 customers and 23 vendors, he added.

The total amount of sales for local farmers and producers between May and the end of September was $98,634. The projected total sales which will include two Saturdays in October is $110,000, Jewel reported. The 2019 total sales was $99,500.

He said the market also “supplied $2,600 of nutritional assistance to our community through SNAP, WIC and Senior Nutritional Assistance Programs.” And because the market was so popular with shoppers, the market’s member farmers “were able to double that to $5,200 thus far thanks to our Double Dollars Program.”

“We were very pleased,” with how successful the market was despite COVID-19, Jewel said.

The success of the market was also due in part by the support of the Community Farms Alliance, the Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce and the Boyle County Fiscal Court, Jewel said.

Having the market at Constitution Square “adds so much to our market experience. And from our customers to our farmers, we all love our market home,” he said. “Thanks to the continued support of our friends at Boyle County Fiscal Court, we hope to continue every season in our beautiful Constitution Square home.”

The BCFM opened right on schedule in May, “But it was a major undertaking. We worked with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Community Farm Alliance and our local health department, all of whom were very helpful, in putting together protocols to keep our farms and our customers safe, but still have a fund and welcoming market every Saturday,” Jewel said.

“Our customers and our farmers were exceptionally cooperative and followed all of our protocols. … I am very proud of the way our farmers market community pulled together in this challenging time.”

Jewel said many customers told him that the Saturday markets were their only weekly outing. “It was the only time they got to get out, say hi to their friends and neighbors, and interact with folks out in the fresh air. It has really meant a lot to have this safe outdoor market this season, not only for the fresh local food, but also for the social aspect. It makes me so happy when I get those kinds of comments on what our market means to the community.”