Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference Overview

Friends Drift Inn Farm – Real Life

Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference Lexington KY

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Warning! Agnerd in High Heels!
Real Life and Observations

Last week I ventured “up the big road,” Kentucky’s Mountain Parkway, to commune with my people. I say “my people” because while I am a decent cook, it is growing in Kentucky’s soil that is my passion and my joy. It amuses my friends, but I have been talking about going to this conference for weeks and my excitment truly effervesces.

The Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference is the largest such gathering in the Commonwealth. It’s held at Lexington’s Embassy Suites on part of UK’s Coldstream Farm. Coldstream Farm…OH what memories! I can remember Beth, Julie and I roaring up for Ag Class, late as always, sliding into the parking lot tires squealing and kicking up a ton of dust as Beth’s White Trans Am glistened in the Kentucky sunshine. The boys would shake their heads. The professors, too. Being Women in Ag was not cool when I was in school.

So it was kind of a rite of passage that I should kick off my little roadtrip with dinner out with none other than Kappa Delta Julie, Queen of the Cattle Traders. We had not seen each other in seven, count them seven years! She arrived at the hotel in pointy toed boots and I was ready in pointy toed heels. We threw cushaws in back of her car, and headed off to Azur Restaurant for a quiet evening of gluttony.

Chef Jeremy Ashby of Azur Restaurant and Patio Lexington KY

Chef Jeremy Ashby did not disappoint. He rarely does, but I think it’s because I ply him with cushaws! Giggles Julie and I had lots of catching up to do. We picked up our relationship as if only a week had elapsed instead of almost a decade. Now we are thinking maybe it’s time to grab a white Trans-Am and leave the husbands to mind the businesses while we find someplace warm with those little umbrella drinks served by cabana boys. Well, the girls can dream! Giggles

The next morning, back in the real world, the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference was in full swing. It’s the first time I have travelled by myself in some twenty years. Note to self, buy some clothes with pockets…just carry a camera, recorder and lipstick. I have become accustomed to my entourage, the pointy toed shoes sisters, and let me tell you I missed them. Shuffling between passing out business cards, juggling a portfolio and trying to focus the camera while shoving a recorder into people’s faces and carrying a purse full of “essentials” is no way to go through a conference when flying solo. But I digress.

Kirk Pomper, PHD Kentucky State University "The Paw Paw Guy"

There were classes following several tracks. I opted for the Organic Producers track which included KSU’s Kirk Pomper talking about a Paw Paws. I heard Mike Bumford talk about Sorghum production. I also attended some of the Conventional Ag classes on crop production.

Agnerd Anna Maude Lucio Kentucky Proud Marketing Team

As an #agchick that struggles with technology, I was particuliarly excited to participate in some of the social media and marketing classes. Anna Maude Lucio of the Kentucky Proud Marketing Team spoke about twitter and facebook. She’s young and I think she thought it was funny that I am just now moving to a mobile phone. Fine, Ms. Anna get your jollies now. I’ll catch up and fill your text message box plumb full! (Is there such a thing as a text message box?) I also heard Anna Capporelli speak on the Kentucky Proud Restaurant Rewards program. She wears pointy toed shoes, so there were two of “us” amongst the cowboy boots. Giggles I heard Sharon Spencer address Kentucky Farmers Market issues in several sessions.

Tricia Justin and Bob The Rogues

One of the biggest kicks of the conference was seeing friends that I rarely get to spend time with due to the distances between us – and meeting facebook friends who I have never actually seen face to face. There was Tricia Houston of    Napolean Ridge Farm and    Chef Justin Dean. There was UK’s Bob Perry, Chef and Sustainable Ag Guy, my Paw Paw Brulee inspiration who is also my facebook buddy. I breezed by my friend Tammy Horn, “The Bee Lady,” but I’m going to see here at the January Beekeepers Conference. There was Berea’s Sean Clark. One of my biggest giggles was meeting Ray Bowman of Jersuleum Ridge Farms and The Farmstead Media Group. Ray and I met on twitter #agchat and have been internet friends for a couple of years. To see the man, to share a laugh and a warm hug…that was special.

With conferences, you learn some things in the classroom. But the best thing is meeting the people!

Stop back on Wednesday when I will be sharing my behind the scenes time with Bill Best, Kentucky’s legendary seed saver and more on the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference.

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About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.