Farm Fresh Orders Online
In the southern part of the state, technology is helping farmers in rural
Monroe County reach new customers in the state’s capital, about three hours away.
Monroe Farm Market Manager
Keveney Bair and Phillip Schrock
deliver fresh produce to
Charleston restaurants each week.
The non-profit Monroe Farm Market is operated out of Union as both a physical
and virtual farmers market for fresh, local foods. On monroefarmmarket.org,
member farmers log into the system to list how many pounds of tomatoes, cheese,
baked goods, eggs, grass-fed beef, cucumbers or microgreens they have available that
week. Customers pay a small annual fee to shop online. Then, once a week, market
manager Keveney Bair and her team work with the farmers to fulfill the orders and
deliver them to a pick-up location in Charleston. In doing so, the association connects
20 farms to more than 100 individuals and restaurants, including the Bluegrass
Kitchen, Lola’s Pizza, Tricky Fish and Bridge Road Bistro.
“There’s a high quality and freshness to the items. The items are harvested the day
before. That is very different than something that has traveled across the country,”
Bair said. The market’s customers are young families and professionals who enjoy
cooking and food. The market gets referrals through word of mouth, friends of friends.
Meanwhile, the profits go directly to the farmers.
Each year, the market hosts several producer meetings where they talk about the
marketplace. Bair said the member farms collaborate and make sure they have enough
production of the specialty items that proved popular. They work with the county
extension agent and share information
about extending the season by using high
tunnels, unheated greenhouses made of
PVC pipe arches and plastic sheeting.
A Bluegrass Kitchen special made with Monroe County produce: roasted local
spaghetti squash filled with Israeli couscous, stewed tomatoes, and red pepper coulis
with local micro greens.
“Wild and wonderful is very true
about Monroe Country,” Bair said. “I like
helping to provide a source of income
for the family farms and we think it’s
important that restaurants start using
more local foods. A lot more care goes
into the food grown on a small farm –
it’s a good direction for everyone and
I enjoy being part of that.”