"Documenting Lexington Farmers Market History," WUKY. February 10, 2012.
LEXINGTON, KY. (WUKY) - If you've ever been a vendor or customer of the Lexington Farmer's Market, market organizers and a University of Kentucky professor want to hear from you. A community archival project starts this weekend. Dr. Jenny Rice, Director of Composition at UK, hopes to compile memories and memorabilia from the market.
"And students from UK's College of Arts and Science will be on hand at tables to record these oral histories. They'll have the ability to scan in things like old photos, fliers, posters," says Rice.
The Lexington Farmers Market started as an agricultural cooperative in 1975. Assistant Manager Alexa Arnold says there are some old pictures and newspaper clippings that have been saved, but the goal is to preserve the organization's history.
"There's not a lot of information out there, research-wise. So I think this could really benefit future markets here or anywhere in the United States."
The diversity of food available at the Lexington Farmers Market has grown over the years; customers can pick out heirloom vegetables, meat products, cheese, and even hot food. But the market is still home to some of the same vendors who started with the co-op.
"A lot of it really goes back to roots and true truck farming: in the fields, driving into the city. These farmers are able to stay on the farm and make a living doing what the really love the most, which is working their land," says market Executive Director Jeff Dabbelt.
By Sam Morrison
A group of students will invite Lexington Farmer’s Market vendors and loyal patrons to reminisce, by hosting the first ever on-site archiving day on Saturday.
Undergraduate students enrolled in Jeff Rice’s A&S 100 “Eating Kentucky” course, taught through the A&S Wired program, will be recording the oral history of the farmers market.
Jenny Rice, an assistant professor of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Media, organized the event with Jeff Rice and other faculty in the College of Arts and Science.
“I started to imagine a kind of mobile community writing center that would bring students, community members and faculty together in order to contribute to long-term community-building projects,” she said in an email to the Kernel.
Memorabilia and individual recollections over the last four decades will be collected for the first time and will be made available to any interested party at UK’s Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.
Alexa Arnold, a UK graduate and current assistant market manager of the Farmers Market, said she is excited for Saturday’s event.
“When I was in my undergrad at UK, I wanted to do a lot of research about farmers markets, but there really just isn’t that much out there yet, even though markets have been around for so long,” Arnold said. “So I’m just excited there’s actually going to be real data available for future studies, which means more funding and more availability for small farmers to sell their stuff.”
In his seventh year as executive director of the Lexington Farmer’s Market, Jeff Dabbelt said the market maintains around 70 registered venders throughout the seasons and actually dates back to 1972.
He said “an informal group was selling together with assistance of the city,” and then was “formally incorporated as the Lexington Farmer’s Market in 1975.”
Captivated by the importance the oral recordings could provide contemporarily and historically, Dabbelt addressed working hand-in-hand with the university.
“When we receive a wonderful offer and partnership with UK that will meet their needs and their goals and their efforts to try and educate their students, but also provide this service for us, it was something we had to take advantage of,” he said.
Saturday’s event is the first of its kind, but certainly won’t be the last as Dabbelt discussed plans for an April archiving day.
The Lexington Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Victorian Square atrium, directly across from the Triangle Park ice skating rink.