Christian County resident LouAnna Basinger knows farm life. She’s lived on the same land since she was a girl.

“I’ve been here on my farm since I was seven years old and I’ve got two acres left,” Basinger said.

On one of those acres, a quarter of property is dedicated to Basinger’s garden, where she grows potatoes, corn, cucumbers, squash and more. She’s especially known for her large, juicy german tomatoes that she plants every February and raises from seeds. She’s sold them to neighbors, friends and family for the last 30 years, she said, but in 2017, she began setting up shop at the Christian County Health Department’s farmers market.

The farmer’s market started last year, Health Department Director Cindy Bilyeu told the Headliner News. It began in an effort to help folks understand how food is grown.

“This is about encouraging people to garden, giving people a chance to talk to gardeners, bringing your kids out, letting them see the fresh foods there, and just the ability to purchase it inexpensively,” Bilyeu said.

Basinger sells her tomatoes at the several farmers market locations for $6.50, sometimes $7, a box. For her, the produce is simply a product of her love for living in the country.

“My son plows the garden for me, my daughter helps me put up the fencing and I do the rest,” Basinger said. “I like to be useful and I like to be outside.”

It’s difficult to know how many vendors will be at the market’s different locations at any given time, Bilyeu said, but the market is open to all every Thursday evening from 5-7 p.m., July 12-Aug. 2.

“Usually, if you’re at a regular farmers market, there are guidelines that you have to pay a certain fee to join that market and be a part of the market. You have to be there at a particular time, and you have to stay there until close,” Bilyeu said. “That way, people come to the market because there’s always stuff there.”

Sales operate a little different for the health department market, though.

“You don’t have to pay any fees, you don’t have to be there at any particular time, there’s no commitment to it,” Bilyeu says. “If you had an abundance of tomatoes this week, then you can go out there and just sit down at one of our tables and sell them. When you’re done, you can get up and leave.”

For this reason, Bilyeu says there is no amount of produce too small for gardeners to come out and sell their products.

“If you have extra, don’t throw it over the fence. Somebody out there wants it,” she said. “Don’t let those tomatoes spoil because you can’t find anybody nearby to give them to.”

There’s only two real rules the market lives by, Bilyeu said.

“You can price (produce) at whatever you want. We just require that you don’t give it away for free, because that’s not really fair to the other vendors,” she said. Also, “…You have to have knowledge of the way it was grown—people ask questions about what chemicals you used and did not use.”

For more information concerning the farmers market, visit the Christian County Health Department’s website: http://www.christiancountyhealth.com/.

In addition to the county’s ongoing farmers market, the health department is currently paired with Burtons Farm Blueberries, Bilyeu said. The partnership is similar to the department’s teaming up with High’s Berry Farm, which ended in late May. Christian County kids under the age of 18 received $1.50 off a pound beginning June 19. The program continues throughout the rest of this week, Burtons Farm told the Headliner News, depending on the amount of berries still left to pick.

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