SPECIAL REPORT: From Farm to Market

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WARREN COUNTY, Ky. (WBKO) Each weekend, many people go out to the farmers' market to get fresh, locally grown produce.

While it's a quick, one-stop shop for the customers, each vendor spends a great deal of time every day to make sure those products are available to customers each Saturday.

"We're planting, we're weeding, we're watering and we're picking and we're cleaning and packaging. It takes long hours. We have to work on Saturdays and Sundays, especially with asparagus because it has to be picked every day," said Joe O'Daniel, who owns O'Daniel Farms in Warren County.

He has owned his farm since 1987, growing all kinds of produce from asparagus to strawberries. He also grows many herbs.

It's an every day job that customers at the farmers' market rarely see firsthand.

"So much more than what we see. It requires constant attention and a lot of attention to detail, ongoing care. I know enough to know that I don't do well doing it myself. It takes not just a green thumb, but a lot of time, attention and persistence," said Ouida Meier, who goes to the market.

O'Daniel said hard work is worth it if it means he's taking his freshest products to the local market for consumers to enjoy.

"As soon as a vegetable or fruit is picked, it starts losing some of its nutritional value and vitamins and things. So the fresher you can get that, the more nutrition you're getting and it's also going to taste better. A lot of products are picked unripe when they come from California or Mexico. Most everything at the farmers market is going to be vine-ripe. That's tomatoes, strawberries, peaches -- and they taste so much better when they have those natural sugars from the sun and right of the vine," he said.

People who shop at the market each weekend agree they can taste that difference and believe it's healthier because they know most of it isn't treated with pesticides.

"With growing awareness about how much what we eat becomes part of us, I think it's a really easy thing for people to do to improve their health. Just paying attention to what they put in their bodies," Meier said.

She said she enjoys being able to talk to the people who grow her food -- like many of the market's other customers.

"You can come and talk to your grower or your farmer. If you're buying beef, you can talk to the person who raised the cows and find out exactly the practices involved with that or growing your food," said Kellie Diamond, SKY Farmers' Market.

The variety that's offered at the market is why many say both customers and farmers keep going back.

"We think it touches a whole lot more people, because people like to come to the farmers market so they can socialize and they can find other vendors there with other things that I don't have -- like we've got milk there and cheese there and dog biscuits and some crafts," O'Daniel said.

Farmers also say the market is not only a way to get locally-grown food, but it also supports the local economy.

"I go to my local stores and buy things and those people buy produce from me and I turn that money around and spend it right back in Bowling Green," O'Daniel said.

"The Buy Local Movement goes hand-in-hand with farming and farmers markets in general. We're fortunate to live in this agrarian community where we have this food -- everything we eat is grown and produced right around us -- and having the market here just brings it closer to home," Diamond said.

If you'd like to stop by one of Bowling Green's farmers' markets, here's a list of them:

SKY Farmers' Market: Open Tues. 7 a.m. to noon and Sat. 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. on the 31-W By-Pass in front of the Medical Center.

Community Farmers' Market: Open Tues. 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sat. 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2319 Nashville Road.

Bowling Green Farmers' Market: Open Tues., Thurs., & Sat. at 6 a.m. until items sold out on Scottsville Rd. in the Hobby Lobby parking lot.

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