Opening Day is Saturday, April 14

5th and High St., 7am-12noon

It's just two more weeks until Opening Day at the SKY Farmers Market, Saturday, April 14. Once again we'll be at our new location at 5th and High St. in the backyard of the Medical Center.

This is the 9th season of the SKY Farmers Market. With your support, we continue to grow and improve on our commitment to be your best source for farm fresh, seasonal, locally grown food in Bowling Green, KY - all of it 100% locally grown 100% of the time.

Nearly all of your favorite farmers and artists will be back this year along with many new members. In 2012 we'll have over 30 members representing 12 different counties.

We look forward to seeing our old friends and making new ones during another great season at the SKY Farmers Market.

See you there!

Special Events at the SKY Farmer's Market

The SKY Farmers Market has always been a place for the best local products direct from the grower, but also a place to join with friends and neighbors in a relaxed, fun, social atmosphere.

Every week you can meet your friends and family over Bowling Green's favorite hot breakfast of locally grown foods cooked to order in the open air. And throughout the season we plan numerous special events and activities including live music, community events and information, activities for kids and adults, the popular Mother's Day baby animal petting zoo, and our Customer Appreciation Day extravaganza in the fall.

Visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date on all the latest news.

How About this Weather?

All across the nation, from Wisconsin to Georgia, Americans have been enjoying one of the mildest winters on record, and spring seems to be following in the same pattern. Admittedly, it hasn't been great for skiers, but you won't hear many Kentuckians complaining about the unrelentingly balmy weather. What's not to like about warm spring-like weather all winter long?

But the questions inevitably come up. What does this mean for crops, farms, and gardens? How will plants and animals be affected? And what about the bugs? Is it too good to be true? What's the catch?

Crops, Plants, and Animals

The good news is that the natural world is extremely flexible and resilient. Just like you and me, plants and animals are taking advantage of a good thing while they can. Winter can be a harsh and stressful time even for plants and animals adapted to the cold. But this winter perennial plants, trees, and shrubs have generally survived with very little winter-kill or injury. Domestic and wild animals, too, have come through the winter in good condition, and are in a good position to make use of lush spring and summer growth.

Of course, anyone with experience has learned the hard way that the weather can turn and bite without warning. That's the real risk of this mild winter and spring weather. Plants that have begun sprouting and flowering two weeks or more earlier than normal are very vulnerable to a sudden cold snap, and could lose the whole year's production on a single crisp, clear night. Orchardists especially have been holding their breath, hoping not to lose this year's crop of peaches, apples, and other tree fruits.

Is It Global Warming?

The simple answer is no. In and of itself, unusual weather is not that, well... unusual. No particular weather event or even an entire season can be tied directly to global climate change. In that sense this mild winter is just a fluke, something out on the edge of the normal range.

However, this year the USDA revised it's national Plant Hardiness Zone Map, shifting all of the hardiness zones northward. This change is based on longer term data that does seem to indicate a general warming of our climate, at least during the past 20 years. So we might expect this type of weather to become closer to the norm. Now just might be the time to give some of those tender perrenials and tropical plants another try in your garden.

Check out this cool animation of recent changes the National Arbor Day Foundation made to it's hardiness zone map.

Let's not get carried away, though. We're still cleaning up from the devastating ice storm that crippled the region just three years ago. And you don't have to be an old-timer to remember the April freeze that killed all the new growth on trees in the area. It was mid-summer before some of them began to regrow. Weather happens, and the surprises are not always pleasant ones.

Phenology

Weather and climate are variable and dynamic by nature. While they follow distinct patterns, those patterns are nowhere near as rigid as the numbered march of days through the calendar year. Instead, plants and animals follow natural seasonal patterns by responding to cues such as temperature, moisture and humidity, day length, and other seasonal indicators.

In this way flowers and insects manage to emerge in precise unison with each other year after year, no matter what the weather, ensuring that the one gets pollinated and the other gets fed. There are innumerable such exquisitely timed relationships in the natural world.

Phenology is the study of the timing of natural phenomena like bird migrations and insect and flower emergence in relation to seasonal cues and patterns. Farmers, scientists, hunters, and others have been observing the timing of natural events since before recorded history, using their observations to make decisions about important seasonal activities. Folk wisdom of the sort you find in a farmer's almanac is often based on phenology.

There's been a renewed interest in phenology among scientists, naturalists, and ordinary people as they begin to examine the effects of climate change. Kids and adults can learn more about observing and understanding the timing of natural events and even get involved at Project BudBurst, a project of the National Ecological Observatory Network and the National Science Foundation. With the help of citizen scientists, the project is collecting data on the timing of natural phenomena across the country in an attempt to track and understand changing patterns in the weather and climate.

Book Review:
North with the Spring by Edwin Way Teale

I’d like to share with you one of my favorite books, one that I first read back in the 60’s and reread parts of it every late winter. The book is entitled North With The Spring and is written by Edwin Way Teale.

For those of us living here in Kentucky, we get to experience the four seasons, but none of them to the extreme. The seasons come and go leaving us behind. The Teales decided that rather than have spring rush over them that they wanted to experience spring as it came to America, so they took off on an adventure to follow this exciting season as it advanced up the Eastern Seaboard. It was a journey that lasted 4 months and took them through 23 states as they traveled 17,000 miles keeping up with spring.

They started out in the middle of February in the southern Everglades of Florida and wound up months later as spring finally arrived on Mt Washington in New Hampshire.

Perhaps because spring is my favorite season I am captivated by this idea of witnessing the arrival of spring over and over again! Something I found fascinating was the Teales' statement that spring advances North at the rate of 15 miles a day. When I first moved to our farm here in Edmonson County I worked in Louisville and everyday would drive back and forth to work there and I was able to watch as spring advanced up the I-65 corridor, just like he said!

So if you enjoy this season I would highly recommend this wonderful tale.

The book is North with the Spring by Edwin Way Teale, 1951. Reprinted in 1990 by St. Martin's Press.

Paw Paw Flowers
Early Paw Paw Flowers

In the news...

On Monday, March 26, SKY Market farmers Joe O'Daniel and Paul Wiediger spoke with WKYU Public Radio's Kevin Willis about how this spring's unusually warm temperatures are affecting crops.

Listen to the story

USDA Hardiness Zone Map
Revised USDA
Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Project BudBurst