News Contacts: Jeff Henderson, 606-287-7693 or Mary Carpenter, 606-364-3436
"Jammin with the Generals"
Thank you to the Jackson County Sun for Your Support!
Doug Wilson (JCHS Ag Teacher) in collaboration with Jerry Sparks (Jackson County Sun, Senior Reporter)
Greg Golden, the Kitchen Manager, is a tremendous asset to our community. He gave the students the technical support in the measuring of the pH, brix level (sugar level), and the temperature of processing. All this information was recorded and sent to Frankfort for permanent file. The FCCLA and FFA also applied for and was accepted as a member of the Ky Dept. of Agriculture’s KY PROUD Program. “This was a tremendous opportunity for our students to utilize a beautiful and functional facility here in our county” said Wilson. “Having commercial facilities accessible to our students improves our ability to teach the culinary and marketing skills that our students need in order to be successful on our senior level state exams” explained Smith. JCHS Principal Keith Hays observed the students during the processing and stated “it is hard to believe we have this nice facility in our county and how much of an asset this is for our students to get the opportunity to utilize it as a laboratory exercise”.
Jammin’ with the Generals was the end product of a marketing brain storming and marketing plan developed by the classes at the high school. The students had to be able to establish a marketing plan, calculate the cost of production, determine the profit margins, and develop sales strategies. The label design and layout were also from the guidelines of food labeling laws and from the ideas of the students participating.
The jam is bottled in 9 oz glass jars and sells for $4 per jar. The jam is being sold as an end of the year marketing project from the Farm to School. For more information about the purchasing of the strawberry jam or the opportunities through the Family & Consumer Science and Agriculture Departments, contact the high school at 606-287-7155.
General Jams may also be purchased at the Jackson County Cooperative Extension Office in McKee (606)287-7693 or at the Jackson County Regional Food Center (606)364-3436 for $4 each.
Regional food center helps add value to farm products
By Aimee Nielson
ANNVILLE, Ky., (July 22, 2011) – Sometimes the overhead required to develop and produce a value-added products on the farm is just too much for already financially strapped farmers. A new venture in Eastern Kentucky is trying to reduce that burden and make it easier for farmers to get their products into consumers’ hands.
The Jackson County Regional Food Center in Annville has been in the works for almost a decade and now it’s finally open and ready for farmers and entrepreneurs in Kentucky and beyond to get to work.
About 11 years ago, local non-profit group Appalachian Alternative Agriculture for Jackson County started researching niche markets for the county’s farmers to explore.
“As the agricultural diversification part of Phase I came along, we found there was a need for some infrastructure so that farmers could add value to their product,” said Jeff Henderson, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. “Eight years later, here we are with a regional food center where people can mass-produce their products.”
Appalachian Alternative Agriculture for Jackson County members wanted to take the overhead out the equation for farmers wanting to create value-added products.
“There are farmers out there who have great recipes but they can’t afford that $8,000 or $10,000 steam kettle (they need) or they aren’t able to build a $25,000 kitchen,” he said. “So we put something in place they can rent to develop their product at an hourly rate we charge here, to make it more affordable.”
Henderson said the center is much more than a commercial kitchen. Clients can bring their recipe, get help developing it into a saleable product, get advise on packaging and labeling and the produce as many as 2,000 to 3,000 units per day. All of this is possible with state-of-the-art equipment in a certified kitchen.
“We’re trying to help farmers funnel more money into the farm,” said Greg Golden, manager at the center. “Farmers bring (produce) to the farmers market and what they don’t sell, they can bring to the kitchen to process into a value-added product.”
Golden said clients can bring the recipe and ingredients to the center and make it themselves or pay center employees to do the work for them.
“It’s a win-win situation for people in this county,” he said. “We’ve had people making strawberry jams, jellies, barbecue sauces, marinades, hot sauces, relishes and more.”
Farmers then turn around and add those value-added products to their weekly farmers market offerings and also sell them in other venues.
The center is also creating much-needed jobs in Jackson County. In addition to Golden, the center employees a few part time workers to help with production. But Henderson said the center is really helping create many home-based businesses in the region and other locations.
Another benefit of the Jackson County Regional Food Center is a docking station for Kentucky State University’s Mobile Processing Unit which travels around the state to help farmers process their poultry and rabbits.
“There’s more and more interest in people having backyard (poultry flocks) for their own use,” Henderson said. “We’re thinking we’ll see that segment of the center grow.”
Henderson stressed that although the center is aimed at helping clients create a marketable product, there is room for home processors too.
“If someone wants to do their home canning here, we have special rates for that,” he said. “For example, someone could can 50 quarts of beans at a time. So, you can use the facility for things you want to use at home or you can do a commercial project. The center is there to serve both types of clients.”
For more information about using the center, contact Golden at 606-364-3436 or visit their website at http://www.jcfoodcenter.com.
Writer: Aimee Nielson, 859-257-7707
UK College of Agriculture, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.