Adding Value to Kentucky Grown Produce Through Season Extension and Market Development
Family farms in Kentucky are representative of similar farms throughout the South with the addition of one issue, dependence on a secure tobacco market. Kentucky has among the largest number of small farms in the region, with tobacco produced in 119 of the 120 counties in Kentucky. Attempts at farm diversification for Kentucky family farms are often met with marketing obstacles. In the face of failure with attempts to diversify, Kentucky farmers renew their dependence on the secure tobacco income generated once a year. In order to break this cycle of dependency, farm projects centering on diversification that include marketing development are vital.
This project proposes to add value to selected vegetable and specialty horticulture crops produced on a diversified family farm in central Kentucky by extending the production seasons and marketing window of specific horticulture products. Greenhouse production of vegetables will occur in existing tobacco greenhouses, so that there will be no expenses associated with new construction. This will result in greater year-round use of existing structures.
This project seeks to:
(1) extend the production season of specific horticulture products by using greenhouse production methods; and
(2) process pepper, tomato, sweet basil and other fresh market vegetable products by drying the product, packaging with vacuum sealing methods and developing a market for such produce items.
This project to add value will create experience in the production and marketing of packaged produce items. The goal is to ultimately achieve results that can be duplicated by other family farm operations seeking to diversify.