Friday, November 4, 2011

Announcing the “Friendly Market” of Northern Kentucky

Kentucky Proud Producers Needed!

Announcing the “Friendly Market” of Northern Kentucky

Construction is underway to create a 100,000 square foot public market space featuring all types of Kentucky grown or produced merchandise!  The “Friendly Market” is planned to be located within an existing shopping center at the “gateway to Kentucky” in Florence, Kentucky at exit 178 (Mt. Zion Road) off I-75. 

Phase one will create an environmentally controlled indoor space which will house three sections, including, (1) the Kentucky Vinery, (2) Butchers, cheese makers, bakers, and (3) the Kentucky Proud General Store; it will also create an accompanying outdoor Farmers’ Market space.  The Kentucky Vinery will consist of Kentucky wines alongside a tasting room and a small restaurant.  Several small merchants skilled in butchery, cheese making, and baking will comprise a good portion of space within the store.  The Kentucky Proud General Store will house all other Kentucky Proud merchandise.  Space for perishable and non-perishable items will be available. 

All vendors must meet the criteria for the Kentucky Proud program to provide merchandise to the store.  Vendors will sell merchandise on a consignment basis, and will be paid monthly.  Display space will be rented to vendors per cubic foot and includes fees for employees and utility costs.  Vendors will only pay a display space rental fee and will receive 100% of the product proceeds.  All merchandise consigned must have a UPC code (the Friendly Market staff can help with this), and vendors must possess product liability insurance.  Vendors must agree to sign a minimum two year rental agreement and provide merchandise as necessary during those two years. 

The “Friendly Market” will operate six days per week, 52 weeks per year.  The hours of operation will be:                    Tuesday – Friday         9 am. – 6 pm.
                                Saturday                      8 am. – 6 pm. 
                    Sunday                        10 am. – 5 pm.

The “Friendly Market” is set to open May 1, 2012.  For more information, contact Jack Berberich at or 859-760-8973. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Beyond Farmers Markets

There will be an excellent "meet the buyers" program for the Louisville area at St. Catherine's College in Washington County on October 20, 2011.  MarketReady folks should be dialed in.

The program offers the following - -
"In conjunction with Louisville Farm To Table and Market Ready the Washington County Extension Service is hosting a Beyond Farmers Market Program directed at bringing volume local food buyers from the Louisville area to a centrally located area (Washington County) to meet interested producers that are looking to enter the larger market of Metro Louisville and surrounding areas.  Registration is free and there will be a free locavore breakfast and lunch!" 

The slate of buyers looks great.  Farm to school, direct beef marketing, wine, GAP and insurance.  Restaurant and popcorn buyers.  Buyers from Churchill Downs.  A nice peek into the Louisville buyer community.  Hope to see you there.
Beyond Farmers’ Markets: Making Money with Growing Food Products
Training Date:  
October 20 2011
St Catharine Mother House
8:30 - 3
8:30 to 9:00 – Registration and continental breakfast

The registration is free - but please register by either contacting Dennis Morgeson at (859) 336-7741
or his e-mail:

Really funny over-the-top view of local foods

Is this how people view local?  This is worth a few grins.              

Friday, September 16, 2011

Head over to the Incredible Food Show

Saturday, October 8
Rupp Arena

(see link for program details and complete list of exhibitors)

Here is a MUST GO TO event for our MarketReady alumni and future students.  The Food Systems Innovation Center will be there.  More importantly, Kentucky food entrepreneurs of all types will be exhibiting.  What a great forum to meet folks, ask questions, see new ideas.  I promise you will be inspired.

Over 80 exhibitors already registered.  Great way to spend part of your Saturday.  Several of these folks have been through the MarketReady program.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Local Food in Covington!

2011 Farmers’ Fair
August 20, 2011 - Covington, Kentucky
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending The Farmers’ Fair for the day.  Held in Covington, Kentucky, the Farmers’ Fair is a celebration in support of local food culture and sustainable living.  The event is organized as a street fair, a farmers’ market and a fundraiser, all relating to and building up relationships from the farm to the table.  This was the event's third year. 

Marksbury Farms meat selections

I was fortunate to visit with the representatives of Marksbury Farm, Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, Sheltowee Farms, featured speaker Daniel Imhoff, Chef Jay Denham of Woodland Pork, Local 127 on Vine Chef Steven Geddes, Carriage House Farm, Relish Restaurant Group’s Justin Dean, and Chef Bob Perry.  I was able to watch a very interesting Ham and Charcuterie cooking demonstration by Chef Jay Denham of Woodland Pork. 
Carrige House Farm booth.

Chef Bob Perry, demo moderator, describes the pluma

More than 50 vendors arrived with all their goods and wares displayed.  There is quite a lot of movement and interest in local food in the Northern Kentucky region!  Several groups worked together and benefited from the proceeds of the event.  They are:  The Central Ohio River Valley Local Food Guide, The Ohio Valley Foodshed Project, Community Farm Alliance, Slow Food Cincinnati, and The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington.
It was a very enjoyable event! Keep up with these guys and get ready for next year:
Chef Jay Denham, Meat Curator of Woodland Pork

Written by:  Miranda Hileman, Extension Associate, University of Kentucky Department of Agricultural Economics,Miranda

Monday, August 22, 2011

Farm Market Restaurant Pickup

Distribution can be one of the real headaches for making restaurant sales pencil out.  There are real costs tied up in farmer time and vehicle use/wear.  We have seen, however, a number of restaurants are so enthusiastic about sourcing local products, they will go down to the farm market and either pick up a pre-arranged purchase themselves or supplement with what's fresh and interesting available that day.  Farm markets have served as a good central location for buyers and sellers of all sorts to hook up.

Restaurant Pick-up Order at Green City Market - Chicago
Chef doing sampling and talking food with farm market patrons

Most chefs love a fresh food market.  If you already are active at a farm market as a grower, look for ways to get some folks from the restaurant community out for a visit.  Demonstrations can be great promotions for both your farm and the restaurant.

I like what Alfalfa's Retaurant does in Lexington.  Anita Courtney shared these pics - showing how Alfalfa's does what they can to convey their commitment to local and fresh.  It's been a very effective promotion tool for the restaurant located just up the street from the market.  They are now buying year around and buying around $3200 a week in local products.

·         The first is employee, Delaney Gibbs, with the Alfalfa-Farmers Market wagon.  Every Saturday morning she rolls it 2 blocks from the restaurant to the Lexington Farmers Market. 
·         The second is Delaney filling the wagon with eggs from Beth Tillery of Home Pickins’ (Jackson County, and one of our MarketReady alumni!), cheese from Boone Creek Creamery, pasta from Lexington Pasta and fruits and vegetables.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Food Consumer Cooperatives

We have a growing number of food consumer cooperatives in the U.S..  They tend to be relatively small stores, but they are quite active sourcing and promoting local products.  We have our Good Foods Market & Cafe  in Lexington that I mention in our training, but there are nearly 400 of these stores around the country, some of them quite large and all of them firmly committed to their local patron-owners and local producer venbdors.  Ani Katchova and I have been studying the local sourcing strategies of these food coops nationally for several years and have observed a lot of innovative programs introduced that are especially effective working with smaller scale, local producers.

Here's how the coops have helped.....

Farmer-led sampling
This is a great way to build goodwill with the stores AND patrons around the local aspect of your products.  It's also a good way to build the farm estate brand and put that farmer face with the product.  Good Foods does this usually on the first Saturday of each month.  It's a good chance to intereact with consumers, find out what they like, help them understand the value of your product, and get ideas about continuous improvement for all aspects of your product.  The most successful local vendors are regularly involved in sampling somewhere.  If you do this, be prepared to have plenty of supplemental inventory on hand.  Sampling is one of the most effective tools to generate increased inventory turns at the store.  You don't want to get consumers all excited about your product and then be out of stock.

Local Produce Promotion at La Montanita Coop in NM
In-Store Merchandising
Merchandising can include photos, recipes, unique packaging, lables, awards, boxes with the farm name, cross-selling with other complementary products (cross-merchandising), and in-store signage.  Producers in the store for special events is even merchandising.  You can learn a lot just by looking (so says Yogi Berra).  Seeing what other producers are doing that you like in the store will help create a vision for your own merchandising program.  Smaller stores like the GFM can be a lot more flexible with how they work with smaller vendors.  Seasonal displays and trial products can often be worked out.  Category or department managers in the store have a good sense of what has worked and what doesn't and would be among the first folks I would want to talk to for advice about building my merchandising program.

Rolling Fork Farms Merchandsing at Good Foods
Special Owner Events
Most of the successful coops have numerous special events for their owners.  One of my favorites is Dairy Days at the Hanover Coop in New Hampshire.  They will get over 4000 folks coming out to meet the local coops dairy products producers.  Cheeses, chocolate milk, yoghurts, spreads of all types.....quite a production.  I visited the Hanover Coop recently and was greatly impressed with their local sourcing program.  Just have a quick peek at their site to get an idea of how the Hanover Coop takes local promotion to the next level - special events all the time.  Especially skim the "Local Articles" collected from owners, managers, and suppliers to the store.  Inspiring.

Supply Chain Logistics
Coop retail stores are smaller than most grocery chains and have fewer resources to build extensive distribution networks.  But they do have a good record of working with small growers to work out difficult supply logistics.  We tend to see more cooperative delivery among suppliers, vendor-managed inventory, and pre-season production planning within these smaller supplier-buyer networks.  Coops have been working with local suppliers long before "local" became a popular merchandising buzzword.  They don't have the scale typically to set up regional sourcing distribution centers.  A key part of their mission is the engagement of the local producer community in which the owners are also living.  Successful long-term supplier relationships are particularly important here.

Bottom line
I would encourage our KY MarketReady producers to pay a visit to the Good Foods Market & Cafe.  See how they're working with growers.  You might beinterested in more details about the research Ani & I have done with coops nationally as it relates to working with local suppliers.  You can see a recent paper on my home page.  I'll try and get the presentation avialable, too.

I handed out Ann Hopkin's "What We're Looking for from our Local Suppliers" flyer at the MarketReady training.  She's the General Manager of the GFM.  I know she'd love to hear from more KY producers.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Marksbury Farms

Our good friends at Marksbury Farms hosted the Kentucky Ag Council and the Food Systems Innovation crew for a red carpet tour of their market and processing facility.  If you haven't had a chance to see it yet and you're ever in the Danville area, by all means stop by.  These folks are doing a splendid job with small scale processing, farm estate branding, working with regional producers, and working their way into more and more market outlets.

The retail facility is very attractive, carrying a wide assortment of KY Proud products, Marksbury branded items, an attractive deli case, baked breads from a nearby organic farm, and, yes, even Ale-8-One. 

The processing facility was designed with a view toward providing a top flight system for the humane treatment of cattle, pork, and poultry.  Marksbury co-packs for other producers and also sells under their own label.  There is a USDA inspector on site.  Costs per unit are higher for the smaller plant, but MF feels like they can deliver the value their consumers are looking for, particularly in the Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) segment.  You don't always have to be the low-cost supplier focusing on a commodity product to have a successful marketing concept.

The location is somewhat limiting for access to larger urban markets.  MF tries to make up for this with larger, frequent deliveries.  They are selling to a variety of restaurants, grocery retailers, and foodservices. 

Here are just a few pics and a link to their website.  I'd highly encourage you to stop by for a visit - producer or consumer.  Marksbury Farms fills a growing niche.

Looking for Producer Suppliers in Louisville

·    I'm passing this along from Sarah Fritschner - a great look in at some big players in the Louisville foodservice market.  These folks are really looking hard for local sourcing solutions.  See the annoucement and the link below.   Get over there if you can. 
Please join Louisville Farm to Table, Aramark and Jewish and St. Mary’s Healthcare for a workshop designed to provide peer support and industry information to food service workers, dietitians and other healthcare workers in order to support and model a healthy and ecologically sustainable food system, which provides food of naturally high nutritional quality for healthy outcomes.


The invitation can be viewed in more detail at the link here. Please forward to those who you think might be interested in attending. The workshop is free, but registration is required.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Billboard Food Buzz

Rival Food Messages in Lexington KY

This was kind of an interesting observation on Nicholasville Road in Lexington KY this summer.  Wondering how consumers are processing the various food messages.  This photo captures three very interesting messages embraced by consumers today.

1.  Eat Local - The Good Foods Coop and KY Dept of Ag making their pitch to embrace local foods, eat something healthy, support your local producers.  GFC doesn't typically push for billboard ads, so I was impressed to see such a high profile merchandsing effort.

2.  McDonalds - "Crafted for your craving" - is this supposed to communicate a message of 'artisan' fast food targeted to the Fast Food Nation?  Interesting contrast.  Huge sandwich the size of a billboard next to a piece of watermelon.

3.  Notice in the foreground the sign for the European Food Market.  This is about as non-local as you can get.  Having spent a year in Ukraine, I'm actually drawn to this store.  They have things most other grocers won't.  Americans are drawn to variety and unique foods.  Food Channel shows, increased travel, and pretty good restaurants featuring all sorts of ethnic foods open these windows to new culinary experiences.

Just thought this was a fun thing to catch in a picture.  Any thoughts?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Edible Louisville

Potential vendors looking to take advantage of local food opportunities should have a look at the Edible Food Communities slate of resources nationally.

Edible Communities can be explored at -

Specifically, features for Louisville, Northern Kentucky, Memphis, Indy all highlight our nearby food suppliers.  But they also underline neat ideas for local foods in local markets from all over.

I noticed Jim Mansfield, Four Hill Farms, featured in this latest Edible Louisville edition.  Get a copy - paper or on-line.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Four Hills Farms Lamb

Kentucky farmer Jim Mansfield thought his 40 acres of forage could be turned into a tidy part-time income, growing livestock for sale while he held an office job.
Instead, his little part-time sheep herd has turned into herds on the farm across the road and another a few miles away. In addition, he is contracting with at least 15 family farmers around Central Kentucky to grow for his business, which provides lamb for Whole Foods in Kentucky and Southern Ohio, and has begun to sell to Kroger stores and a few restaurants.
Mansfield Launched in Whole Foods

He raises Katahdin sheep, named for Mt. Katahdin in Maine, where the breed was created in the 1950’s by crossbreeding traditional wool sheep with a Caribbean breed, referred to as “hair” sheep. Unlike dependable and widespread European breeds, Katahdin are not grown for wool and meat, but meat only. 
Katahdin can withstand heat and humidity (but grow furrier in the winter), often produce twins or triplets, require no shearing, are parasite-resistant, and are good mothers. As the Katahdin International website enthusiastically proclaims, “An all purpose sheep, for anyone, at any location, any time of year!”

While lamb auctions currently pay high prices to farmers, domestic production will no doubt rebound and prices will no doubt fall as a result. It’s then that Mansfield’s advantage for farmers should play out: he guarantees both the price and the market for farmers who raise sheep for him.
Mansfield is looking for more farmers to grow lamb for him. You can find more information about raising lamb and contact information at
contributed by -
Sarah Fritschner
Coordinator, Louisville Farm to Table

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Meat Marketing Labels for Compliance and Sales Appeal

We are fortunate to have a number of producers active in the local meats world.  They have each gone through various growing pains, but seem to be making headway with their products.

Good labels are a key succeess factor.  Labels need to sell and they need to meet USDA and state information requirements.  And new rules keep making their way into the market.

I asked Kenny Burdine ( and Lee Meyer (, our UK Extension meat marketing gurus, to give a little of their insight on the compliance part of meat labels.  Here's what they offered:

Labeling questions are common for marketers who want to sell meat producers directly to consumers via on-farm retail stores, farmers markets, or other outlets.  Title 9, part 317 of the Code of Federal regulations deals with labeling of meat products.  The Food Safety and Inspection Service of USDA has an extensive amount of information on their website including Frequently Asked Questions, label requirements, descriptions of the label approval process, and the full text of Title 9 part 317.  Additional sources of information would include local USDA meat processors in your area, labeling consultants, state officials, extension personnel, and others.

Talk with your meat processor about the labeling process. Most direct meat sellers have  two options. The simple one is to use your processor’s label. The more complicated option, but which many marketers will choose so they can promote their own identity, is to design their own labels for marketing purposes.  Most likely, these producers will need to submit form FSIS 7234-1 to USDA for approval.  Once approved, your label can be used.  The processor must keep the label and approval on file at their establishment.  Also be aware that many terms that are used for livestock and meat production have very specific definitions.  Some of these terms may not be useable on a label at all, while others may be considered labeling claims and require further verification.
The good news is that we have experienced processors around the state that can help producers just starting to sort this out.  The compliance side isn't really that difficult or costly.

Where you want to be sure to spend more time is on the SALABILITY of your label.  We talk about this a lot in MarketReady.  Quality labels and packaging sells what's  inside.  They differentiate you from other consumer choices.

The effort to evaluate your label is well spent.  And there is plenty of help.  DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE KDA POP (Point of Purchase) GRANTS.  Talk to Roger Snell at KDA or myself if you have a question, idea, or are looking for an application.  Meats or ANY food product.  Get a label that will go to work selling your product.

A number of KY meats have done a nice job with their labels.  I like what Stone Cross farms has done with KDA, utilizing the POP grant to develop their label for pork and beef.  Check out their site.  Let me know what you think.

Stone Cross Farms

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chaney's Milk Joins Local Dairy Options at Houchens

Hooray for Carl and Debra Chaney.

After a long road of great perseverence, their milk is now on the shelves at Houchen's and hopefully at a grocer near you.  We've talked about their ice cream in MR and the efforts they've made to brand their products.

Chaney's has had a long reputation as a destination market - agritourism sort of venture.  Carl does a super job with the kids and it's a good revenue source for them.  Moving into a branded product on the retail shelf is a big step for them.  And for Houchens.  But it shows the interest retailers have in stocking products they can feature as 'local'.

Check out the Chaney's home page.  Note the KY Proud label and the big Houchens announcement.

There's an interesting label story here, too.  Had a conversation with Roger Snell from KDA earlier today and he pointed out how Houchens worked with the Chaney's to develop a clearer label for the milk.  The original label (see their site) is cute, creative, and fun, but tough to read in a 5 second pass by the dairy case.

Nice story in the SOKY from Bowling Green.  Free magazine.  Can't seem to find on-line versions of the story and Roger wouldn't let me take his.  Find a copy and read all about it.

Let me know if you see their milk in a store near you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

National Grocers Association 2011 Consumer Survey Report

Here it is.  Hot off the press.  What 1718 U.S. chief shoppers are saying they are looking for in their primary grocery store.

It's interesting reading, easy to skim.  Download the report at -

Here's what jumped out at me - One of the questions asked "What improvements do you want to see at your primary food store?"  Top of the list ----- "More locally grown foods" (by 44% of primary shoppers)!  (see p 21 of the report)

Of course we knew that, didn't we.  This is the first year this improvement has taken the top spot in the list.  Evidentally it came in at 41% last year.  And the study notes that this trend is driven by the largest spenders in the survey.  So the big spenders really want your local products - these folks indicated more locally grown foods to the tune of 67%.

Do you think the grocers are noticing this?  Stay by your phones, producers.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bath County Marketing Center on the Launching Pad

Held our MR trainings at Bath County this week.  Excellent turnout.  Sheep cheese, asparagus, interesting cattle breeds, the egg cooperative, many other interesting ventures pushing forward.

The Bath County Marketing Center looks fantastic.  Very attractive retail space.  It'll be a nice place to showcase a variety of Kentucky products.  The market manager has been hustling to line up vendors.  They're targeting an April start.  I know those attending our training were impressed.  The Bath County leadership is to be commended for all the hard work getting this facility in place.

Be sure to swing by for your own look whenever you're headed by Owingsville.

And don't forget to beautiful commercial kitchen facilities there.  Our MR crew was fixing to feast on some spectacular pie from Clear Creek Restaurant in Salt Lick, KY.  Check them out on Facebook.  Yes, MR friends, even these folks are fast buzzing on Facebook.  Thanks for the great food both nights.

Billy's BBQ

Whenever I go out to eat or shop I'm very tuned in to the promotion of local products - KY Proud or otherwise.  Even at lunch today with Mrs. Woods at one of our favorite Lexington BBQ places, Billy's BBQ, the main things I was looking for on the menu were some evidences of using loca ingredients.

They're not quite all the way there with farm estate branded ingredients, but I was pleased to note that many of their beef and pork products were at least Kentucky Proud.

Angela Caporelli, the KDA Coordinator for the Restaurant Rewards program, has assured me she's making available some of the neat promotion tools KY restaurants have used.  We'll feature those here and in future MarketReady trainings.  Some of our KY restaurants have been very creative.

Three other states that do an incredible job marketing local products in their restaurants include -

New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant - Amazing.  Surely we could get something like this in play in KY.

Texas' GoTexan Restaurant Roundup - ALREADY planning ahead for their big events in July.  We've emphasized how critical it is to get started early for these big local foods feature events.

Fresh on the Menu South Carolina - I especially like how easy it is to find participating restaurants on their site.  Good news for growers and locavores.

Let me know what your favorite local promotion in a restaurant has been.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

MarketReady from Elk Creek Winery

Had such a great showing at such a nice location for our training in Owenton.  Fitting.  Curtis does such an awesome job promoting local foods.

Good food finds its way to good places.  My last visit to Elk Creek included their new showcase of Kenny's Country Cheeses in their deli.

Branding.  Branding.  Branding.  We talk a lot about farm estate branded ingredients in such high demand from our KY chefs.  KY food entrepreneurs can again learn a lot from Curtis and Elk Creek as they have found ways to artfully, tastefully put their brand everywhere.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Welcome to our MarketReady community! 

So many great things to say about opportunities for local food.  We'll visit lots of folks through this blog doing great things that will hopefully serve as inspiration and resources to MarketReady enthusiasts.

I wanted to start today with a shout out to Greg Golden, the manager at the Jackson County Regional Food Center (JCRFC).  We went down to visit the newly opened commercial kitchen a few weeks back.  Extremely impressive.  Greg has connections everywhere.

The facility is equipped for all kinds of commercial food processing.  And Greg is one of the best assets there, coming from Tennessee where he accumulated many years of commercial food experience.  Clearly folks in TN like what he's able to do and have followed him up to Jackson County - a great resource I hope our KY food entrepreneurs will grab.  The facility allows for a wide variety of food development services, including co-packing, processing and canning/bottling, freezing, just a great resource for folks wanting to scale up to a commercial level of business.  And the new road to Annville, Kentucky makes the Center more easily accessible.

Jeff Henderson, Agriculture Extension agent from Jackson County, brought a team from the JCRFC to the MR training at Robinson Center in eastern Kentucky.  They have big plans and we wish them well.

Give Greg a call (606-364-3436), e-mail,, or better yet, stop by and visit.  If you have a food processing idea, Greg will almost certainly have some helpful tips.