Growers The growers are the ones we cannot do without. Heroes, heroines, pioneers, our sine qua non -- we could not live, much less enjoy the splendors of Kentucky food, without our friends who farm.
I farmed, myself, growing up. Briefly, not too successfully, and not at all happily. Summers picking strawberries, black raspberries, cucumbers, or tomatoes did not make me want to farm for a living. I did not have the stomach for all the uncertainty. Rain, temperature, markets, equipment - so much could go wrong on any given day, in spite of how well I worked.
So I admire and respect people who have farmed for six generations, like my dear friends at Elmwood Stock Farm, and people are just plunging in for the first time ever.
I am happy that Kentucky's growers are finding new markets, and new ways to market, including roadside markets, farmers' markets, and "buying clubs," usually called "CSAs," for Community Supported Agriculture.
It took visionary cooks and chefs to shine a bright light on the wonders of Kentucky food. My mother, Ruth Roberts, was the first cook I knew, and the first who savored everything local. She and my father, Lisle Vickery Roberts, both Kentuckians themselves, grew most of what we ate for the 18 years I lived at home.
Mother loved all kinds of food, but a few stand out in my memory as her particular favorites: Corn, blackberries, homemade fruit cake, Myrtie Elam's completely fresh chicken and dumplings, homemade hand-cranked ice cream.
Recently I am so happy to enjoy the benefits of beautiful people like Ouita Michel, chef at Holly Hill Inn in Midway, Kentucky, and John Foster, presently chef at Metropol in downtown Lexington. They see the possibilities in Kentucky's fabulous food products, and they help others see -- and taste -- them, too.