It seemed almost inevitable.
Chris Canon’s family farmed hundreds of acres of cotton and soybeans in Mississippi. Sandy Canon’s parents raised begonias and fuchsia in California and finally “stopped entering them in fairs so other people could win.”
But the Canons had two sons, white-collar careers and a suburban home. Agriculture didn’t have a place in their busy lives until Chris got some 2x4s and built a raised bed in their backyard.
Then another. And another. And a dozen more.
“Chris kept planting more and more,” Sandy Canon said of her husband. “And I had to freeze it and can it.”
So, for the third summer, the Canons are selling vegetables once a week at the Lexington Farmer’s Market — most grown in their backyard and some in the fraction of an acre they cultivate on a wooded farm in Washington County.
“We make some pocket money, but a side benefit is that we’ve spent more time together than we have since before the children came,” she said. “And we really enjoy the people at the market. It’s a social experience.”
The Canons’ backyard on Duncan Avenue near the Red Mile is the smallest and most urban of the dozen Central Kentucky farms that will be on display Saturday during the self-guided Lexington Farmer’s Market Farm Tour.
Other farms on the tour include Abigail’s Apiary, which will demonstrate how bees work; Bleugrass Chevre, which specializes in goat cheeses; the Chrisman Mill and Lover’s Leap wineries; Henkle’s Herbs and heirloom tomatoes and the Barton Brothers’ sweet corn farm.
This is the 2nd annual tour sponsored by the Lexington Farmers’ Market, which recently moved its Saturday market to Cheapside and this week begins a Wednesday evening market at The Mall at Lexington Green. It also has a Sunday market on Southland Drive and Tuesday and Thursday markets at South Broadway and Maxwell streets.
The Lexington Farmers’ Market has been around since 1975, but its recent popularity coincides with growing public interest in locally grown food. Rona Roberts, a Lexington communications consultant who writes the Savoring Kentucky food blog, cites several reasons.
“Part of it is driven by a longing for flavor and the realization that the very best flavor comes from things closest to you,” Roberts said. “There’s a lot lost in transportation.”
That, along with more focus on health and nutrition, has prompted more people to buy produce from farmers’ markets and other local growers such as Elmwood Stock Farm in Georgetown and Honest Farm in Midway.
Many people are becoming more conscious of the environment. They’re concerned about agricultural chemicals and the petroleum used trucking food cross-country.
In addition, the economy has prompted people to look for ways to save money and make their communities more self-sustaining.
Local organizations such as Seedleaf are promoting urban gardening as a way to get nutritious, economical food to people at risk of hunger. Seedleaf teaches people how to grow food and helps establish community gardens.
On the farm tour last year, more than 50 people stopped by to see the Canons’ backyard garden. It inspired one woman to go home and build two raised beds in her backyard. “She said it changed her life,” Sandy Canon said.
More than anything, though, organizers want to inspire more loyal customers for local farmers. After all, that’s what it will take to grow and sustain a local food economy.
If you go
Lexington Farmers’ Market Farm Tour
Saturday, June 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
$10 adults, $5 students, younger than 12 free
More information: www.lexingtonfarmersmarket.com
Savoring Kentucky: www.savoringkentucky.com