By Ray Bowman
As you make your way on Interstate 64 between Morehead and Mount Sterling, you are likely to take note of the large, green hoop structure that sits just off exit 123 in Bath County. Before Highway 60 takes you on to Owingsville and Salt Lick, it runs right in front of the Kentucky Market Pavilion, a complex of indoor and outdoor spaces designed to showcase the local foods, crafts, culture and traditions of Eastern Kentucky.
The venue was reopened in late 2014 under the direction of The Center for Appalachian Philanthropy (AppaPhil,) a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Portsmouth, OH and serving the central Appalachian region.
“We organized to create programs that benefited vulnerable populations in Appalachia,” explained Mandilyn (Mandy) Hart, AppaPhil’s Executive Director.
Bath County Extension owns the property and its office is part of the complex, but an agreement was negotiated for AppaPhil to assume management of the Market Pavilion.
“We came in last fall and asked community members ‘what do you need?’” Hart said. “We recognized that there are so many more farmers here than there are artisans. We decided that for the facility to be successful, the success is going to come from the foods.”
The shop at the Pavilion still features regional arts and crafts, but the focus is distinctly on food, with produce auctions, farmers markets and food preparation in the facility’s commercial kitchen taking the spotlight.
The new management team closely examined the successes of the Jackson County Regional Food Center, hoping to benefit from that model. Existing programs like the farmer’s market and the produce auctions are being evaluated to maximize their success and a project is in the works to aggregate produce from local growers to be distributed to a network of schools, restaurants and markets.
“There’s no other place like this in Kentucky,” Hart remarked, referencing the larger towns nearby, the regional recreation opportunities afforded by Cave Run Lake and the nearby interstate connecting it all.
AppaPhil currently operates a program in Lewis County called “Promising Futures.” The program is funded through a grant from the USDA’s Rural Development Agency and provides educational and support services to assist small and emerging businesses within the Vanceburg area. Hart sees a similar effort becoming available in Bath County as home-based businesses take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities utilizing the commercial kitchen facilities for artisan-prepared food products. The University of Kentucky’s Food Systems Innovation Center is also available to provide technical and business development services to facilitate the profitable production, processing and marketing of locally produced and processed food by Kentucky-based enterprises and entrepreneurs. “We bring a support system for artisans and farmers that we really hope to ramp up this fall,” Hart notes.
In addition to the retail area, the Pavilion features a café that serves hot meals, primarily with food from local farms, for lunch daily.
Director Jon Sanders says he’s enthusiastic about the potential and the opportunities the Kentucky Market Pavilion affords. “Nearly every day someone walks in that wants to start a new business or has an artwork or has a craft or has produce they want to sell, and we’re helping provide the skillset and the resources for them to succeed, and that’s what excites me.”
Tagged Post Topics Include: Appalachia, AppaPhil, Bath County, Bath County Extension, Cave Run Lake, Commercial Kitchen, Crafts, Culture, Director, Eastern Kentucky, Executive Director, Exit 123, Farmers Market, Food Preparation, Highway 60, Jackson County Regional Food Center, Jon Sanders, Kentucky, Kentucky Arts Council, Kentucky Crafted, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Kentucky Market Pavilion, Kentucky Proud, Lewis County, Local foods, Mandilyn Hart, Market Pavilion, Morehead, Mount Sterling, nonprofit, Owingsville, Portsmouth, Produce Auctions, Promising Futures, Salt Lick, The Center for Appalachian Philanthropy, The University of Kentucky’s Food Systems Innovation Center, Traditions, U.S. Department of Agriculture, UK, University of Kentucky, USDA, USDA’s Rural Development Agency