RICHMOND — The Madison County Farmers’ Market in Richmond opened at 8 a.m. Saturday, and a little more than two hours latter, all of the green beans had been sold.
One customer regretted his tardiness when he asked Devin Powell of Powell Farm in Waco if he had any green beans.
“I wanted some fresh beans and tomatoes,” the customers said. “I’m sick of that hydroponic stuff.”
Powell was able to satisfy the customer’s craving for fresh tomatoes, however.
By the time the green beans were gone, the heat was starting to turn oppressive, even if it hadn’t reached the triple digits thermometers would record Saturday afternoon.
Without rain, the high temperatures will decimate crops, said farmers who worked in the shade of their canopies. Some said they had begun irrigating their fields but said they could not afford to continue for long.
Only a few thin ears of corn, which usually comes in best in July, could be found for sale at the market by mid-morning Saturday. The weather holds the fate of the corn crops.
“We don’t raise corn on our (Isbell-Smith) farm,” said Paula Jones, the outdoor market’s coordinator. “But, if we don’t get some rain soon, there may not be much corn or anything else.”
Some farmers in the Baldwin Community, where she lives, have already started putting out bales of hay for their cattle, Jones said.
Keith Parke of Otter Creek Farm was selling beef from a freezer Saturday.
He turned cattle into his last green pasture this week. Although early in the season, unless the field was grazed, the grasses would be “burned up” in a few days, Parke said.
Although there was little corn and the green beans went quickly, green tomatoes and peppers of many varieties were in abundance at the market, along with some large heads of cabbage.
There were even some large onions, weighing more than a pound each, and peaches.
“You could work out with these,” said Margie Baldwin of Baldwin Farm as she held two huge onions by their stalks and pumped her arm with them as if they were dumbbells.
Not long after her demonstration only one of her large onions remained.
There were some red tomatoes for sale, but except for a few large heirlooms, most of the ripe ones still for sale by 10 a.m. were small.
Red, white and even golden potatoes, however, were plentiful, both large and small.
Even if fresh vegetables whither on the vine or in the field, gourmets should not despair. The farmers appeared to have a large supply of home-canned items in reserve.
Jams were the most common canned item, but other vegetables could be found sealed in fruit jars.
The blueberries at the Harrels’ Bees and Berries canopy sold out even before the green beans, but blueberry jam was still available.
The heat and lack of rain have taken a toll on the blueberry crop, said Brent Harrel.
He and his wife Sherry are converting their 30-acre farm in the Million community to native grasses and wild flowers, such as goldenrod, that can better withstand Kentucky’s periodic droughts, Harrel said. Their plan is to shift most of their operation to honey production, he said, holding up a jar of light-gold sweetener. Even in normal times, bees get stressed by the lack of native wildflowers in mid-summer, Harrel said.
As people sighed and staggered in the heat, some young people were quick to approach them, offering bottles of cold water.
They were members of a visiting mission team at Red House Baptist Church.
“Everyone needs a drink of cool water on a hot day,” said team member Jason Winkler, a University of Kentucky student from Florence. “And everyone needs Jesus any day.” However, team members offered a religious message only when recipients asked why they were distributing water for free.
The nine-member mission team has been at Red House all month, Winkler said, helping with vacation Bible school, a sports camp, a youth revival and backyard Bible studies.
Bill Robinson can be reached at brobinson@ richmondregister.com or at 624-6622.