By Ronica Shannon
Register News Writer
The Madison County Farmers Market has a new feature this year allowing more residents to bring home fresh, locally grown produce and baked goods.
The market has been open since May on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but the official opening day celebration is scheduled for Saturday, July 3.
This is the first year that the local farmers market has accepted EBT and debit cards.
“To use your card, simply go to the table with the banner marked EBT/Debit Cards Accepted Here,” said Amanda Sears, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Agent for Horticulture. “There you will be greeted by Lynn Grove, a market volunteer.”
Customers can use their EBT or debit cards to purchase tokens that act as cash at all market booths.
“These vendors will have a sign that says, ‘We Accept Market Tokens,’” Sears said. “Debit card users will be charged a $1 transaction fee in order to cover fees associated with using the wireless machine. No fee is charged to EBT card users.”
The debit/EBT machine was purchased through federal grant funds, said Stephanie Wetzel, a member of the Kentucky Farmers Market Association.
The grant funding was made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy.
“Last year, the Kentucky Farmers Market Association put it into five markets (in the state) trying to figure out what market was best fit to do this,” Wetzel said. “After that test period was over and we had more information, it was offered to more areas.”
A lot of Madison County Farmers Market patrons are not aware that the debit/EBT card machine is available, she said.
“We hope it opens it up to more people,” she said.
Beginning on Saturday, July 3, the farmers market will be open from 8 a.m. until noon in the Lowe’s parking lot.
The Madison County Farmers Market will feature many local produce farmers, as well as those who sell homemade baked goods, jellies and jams.
This year will feature the addition of Otter Creek Farms, a fresh meat vendor.
Myra Isbell of Isbell Smith Farm Fresh Produce, located in Baldwin community, said the main thing that sets the Madison County Farmers Market apart from other produce vendors is the work put in by each farmer represented.
“We do not buy and resale from somewhere else,” Isbell said. “We grow everything we sell, even the jams and jellies are homemade. A lot of people don’t realize how much hard work is put into this. We’re also ‘Kentucky Proud.’”
Berea’s farmers market also is open to the public, but is not accepting EBT/debit cards.
There are two locations for Berea’s market: Behind the Promenade Gallery off of Centre Street, Tuesdays and Fridays from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Old Town L&N Depot/Visitor Center.
Ronica Shannon can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6608.