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March 26, 2014

Farmers Wanted

Grow McCreary working on agriculture database

WHITLEY CITY —  The Agriculture Council of America declared yesterday, March 25, as National Agriculture Day to celebrate an industry which not only provides our food supply but also produces the raw materials for clothing and other manufactured products.

    Kentucky’s 77,064 farms sold more than $5 billion worth of farm products in 2012, according to preliminary results from the latest available USDA Census of Agriculture.

    McCreary County is not generally known as a farming community but that may be changing with the recent excitement surrounding the county’s agribusiness plan.

    “I’ve not seen people as excited as they are about this in some time,” Deputy Judge-Executive Andrew Powell observed.

    Partners in the Grow McCreary initiative include McCreary County Economic and Community Development, McCreary County Soil Conservation District, Grow Appalachia, McCreary MAPP, McCreary County Tourism and more.

    With some 50 McCrearians participating in Grow Appalachia, organizers are hard at work finalizing plans to establish a co-op and open the McCreary Farmers Market in June, to be located at the Soil Conservation property off Wilburn Ross Highway in Stearns.

    According to Powell, organizers hope to implement the agribusiness plan in phases. It is important, first and foremost, to get people gardening, he said.

    Then Grow Appalachia is encouraging niche gardening to produce a harvest of variety. Once the farmers market is established, county officials hope to open this fall a commercial kitchen capable of producing value-added items.

    Powell acknowledged that opening such a kitchen within the old jail has proven controversial with many in the public but noted the facility would make a good starting point.

    “The kitchen, office and staff bathroom are in good shape,” Powell said, noting that the inmate housing unit would be closed off. “If we have to start at the jail, it doesn’t cost us anything.”

    The deputy judge said that other possibilities would be partnering with Somerset Community College’s McCreary Center or perhaps adding a structure when possible at the Farmers Market location.

    “It’ll take time,” Powell said of the agribusiness initiative. “If it achieves nothing else, it will make participants more self sufficient.”

    “It’s also a great thing for health,” Tourism Director Tara Chaney observed.

    Chaney has been asked to present the Grow McCreary initiative at the KTIA (Kentucky Travel Industry Association) Spring Travel Forum in May. The plan, state tourism officials believe, has potential for “experiential tourism” which focuses more on authentic and personal stays rather than mass-marketed activities.

    But for now, organizers remain focused on what Grow McCreary can do for the local community.

    Powell noted that, while Grow Appalachia is already underway, its meetings are open to the general public for informational purposes. A good introduction, he continued, will be the April 24 meeting with guest speaker Bill Best of Berea — an expert in heirloom seeds. That meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the McCreary County Park center.

    More information is also available from Economic/ Community Development Director Susan Stephens, who is compiling a database of producers and/or volunteers interested in participating in the farmers market. Anyone interested should contact her by April 15 at 376-9711 or susan@ mccrearycounty.com.

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Hatfield Lane 22 marijuana plants

The McCreary County Sheriff’s Office seized a total of 22 marijuana plants Saturday evening from a residence on Hatfield Lane in Whitley City. That case will be presented to the grand jury, but three individuals encountered during the investigation were arrested on unrelated charges.

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