Where to get fresh produce in Owensboro, Kentucky

Residents and visitors to Owensboro, Kentucky should not be disappointed with the great selection of fresh-grown food available at a number of locations throughout the city. Prices vary widely and you can bring your own baskets or bags to get a good deal of food to sample, fill your fridge, or bulk up in quantity for your budget. Remember the simple advice that your best bet in finding what you need is to visit during early harvest season. In June and July the markets are already in full swing. You can also find a few vendors in the cooler season during late May. Just take a swing by these locations on their days of operation.

Owensboro Regional Farmers Market (ORFM)

The city of Owensboro’s biggest farmers market, this produce exhibition takes place in the parking lot of the former mall space that is now Owensboro Christian Church at 2818 New Hartford Road. Now considered a “dead mall,” currently owned and operated as a church, it was once notably host to the city’s bargain theater until 1997 and was also the site of the old Woolco that shut down in ’82. As a landmark, Owensboro Christian Church features a modern-looking, cage-like Aluminum assembly instead of a steeple, and there is also a modern marquis of more recent construction, complete with its own LED message board at the highway edge of the parking lot. Both church steeple and service road sign may be seen clearly from Highway 231 in either direction.

During late spring and throughout the summer months, the lot hosts the city’s longest running farmers market, officially operating from April 20 until the end of the harvest season for 2013. Hours begin at 6:30 AM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Most vendors like to sell out and go home before noon. Anticipate offerings of ready-to-grow plants for the garden as the harvest season starts. Some crops won’t be available until later in the growing season.

John T. Smith and wife Doris of Habit, Kentucky began offering their produce straight from the truck at this market in 1989, five years after the market opened in 1984. The actual number of produce canopies vary depending on time and year. Mr. Smith said he has seen as many as 35 farm stands set up for trade. The Market celebrates its 30th anniversary this 2013.

Two new ORFM affiliate efforts shall be available with produce for shoppers from June to July this year, as reported by Keith Lawrence in the April 10, 2013 edition of the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer. Mr. Lawrence goes on to relay the organization’s plans this year for the Smothers Park and 4th and Crabtree locations, as expressed by the Market’s president, Suzanne Cecil White.

Smothers Park

Thursdays from June to July, expect another farmers market with as many as 20 vendors to operate from 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM near park fountains at the recently re-dedicated Smothers Park that extends along the river. The more festive scene and cooler river air should be a welcome break from whatever hot weather that summer shall surely share.

4th and Crabtree

The growing season’s third location will be at 4th and Crabtree, hosting farmers market hours from 3 PM to 6 PM in June and July. Lawrence cites that there enough interest at the location could warrant a longer stay.

You really never know what extras you may find when you drop by for a visit to the regional farmer’s market. Not only can you get exciting, fresh produce such as corn, potatoes, tomatoes, squash and melons, beans, and so much more, fruit is often available in season. Some of the best, freshest blueberries you ever put in your mouth, the ones that taste something like concentrated nectarines with a juicy thrill, were there this year. There were also fresh herbs to use in cooking or for transplanting, canned relish and jams, and a number of varieties of corn including Peaches & Cream, a bi-colored favorite.

The associated market also offers the means to handle electronic bank card transactions (EBTs) for additional means to pay if you don’t arrive with cash. KYProud offers contact information on the Web to handle further inquiries. Social media users will be glad to find out about the interactive Facebook page for the operation that began in Fall 2010.

HWY 60E, East of HWY 60-Loop

Clein Farms situates beneath a tent in a paved lot near Consumers Mall. Business stays open 24/7 throughout the harvest season. Offered are a variety of tasty items including large tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, beans, okra, onions, cantaloupe, and watermelons of large and “bambeno” size. Last year there were pumpkins in October. Come early in the morning to get your best shot at high-demand items such as fresh okra and green beans.

Franey’s Food Mart, North Frederica

From late in the spring until July 21 in 2012, Amish farm produce from Caneyville, Kentucky has been available beneath a modest canopy for a number of years from 8 AM to 2 PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Deliciously fresh organic produce such as cabbages, bell peppers, tomatoes, green beans, squash, and fresh onions are often available. Remember, showing up early offers your best chance for getting what you want because it disappears so fast.

Farm stands

Travelers of major state highways can often see farmer’s food stands or various farm signs situated along the roadway selling anything from strawberry or blueberry picking rights to a respectable slate of produce. Other sightings include straw and sometimes farm animals such as rabbits, kittens or pups. Highway 231 North nearing Masonville is one such location, and Highway 231 South has at least one berry field, if blueberries are your fancy, that seem to run out by mid-June. The pick-your-own markets can usually be distinguished by presence of a simple sign, and sometimes the operators will also sell pre-picked varieties to save customers time.

It’s always best to look to see whether there are any people or written instructions present to consult before proceeding with any specific plans to take home some food.

Having such a wealth of options is great whether you can afford to have your own garden or not. Freshly-harvested foodstuffs are delicious to eat and good for you, too. Not every vendor is an organic grower, so if you don’t like washing off pesticides you can either ask around or let them know what you won’t buy. There are organic produce sellers in Owensboro, but it really depends on the farmer. Make plans to check out each of the vendors over the course of your Owensboro shopping and you’ll be well-rewarded with incredible selection in both goods and prices.