LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) -When COVID-19 began, many people, including farmers, found themselves in a rut. But one family farm in London turned it into an opportunity.
The owners of Cornett Farm Fresh, Brent and Rhonda Cornett, both found themselves at a loss.
“We both got laid off and we kind of thought ‘OK’ now what’s next,” said Rhonda.
More than 100 acres of hemp crop they could no longer use, would turn into one acre of tomatoes.
“We knew people would be wanting more true farm-fresh things that haven’t been on a truck or had been shipped. Southern states have great produce but it’s really nice to walk out in your own field and get a good juicy watermelon. ”
Allowing the community to truly know where their food was coming from. They converted previous materials from their tobacco farm, into greenhouses to grow produce.
“Everybody’s like, ‘Oh I don’t want a greenhouse tomato’ well then they eat our greenhouse tomatoes and they’re like oh my gosh,” she said.
Growing peppers, corn, cantaloupe, watermelon and green beans; they decided to open a store on their farm.
“We had a couple tables set up to keep people out of the processing line area,” said Cornett. With few shelves and one cooler to hold produce.
The processing area is on-site. Using a temperature-controlled chlorinated wash to clean and inspect each fruit or vegetable.
“What they are doing is sorting them,” said Cornett. Using a number system to group produce by its ripeness.
Yet opening during the pandemic, business was picking up, “Picking a couple hundred bushels a day of green beans right now,” but there was still an issue.
“Even though it’s not far it’s not convenient.”
Deciding they had outgrown their farm store, moving to a storefront just seven miles down the road.
“In the 11 days we’ve been open, we’ve already had 1700 customers,” she said. ” We’ve got some folks that come in every day just to get what they’re going to have for supper that night.”
Knowing the community can trust their produce because they trust them.
”Having everything here is more convenient for folks so it has proved to be really good. People know us and they trust us and they trust what they are eating. Know your farmer, know your food,” said Cornett.
Wanting to ‘keep it country’ as Cornett says, “I wanted to add more Kentucky Proud products and I think it makes a difference. Like our cheeses from Wildcat Mountain, he is the last dairy farm in county. The coffee is from Kentucky Mountain Coffee Company from over in Paintsville. So we just try to keep it as local as we could because everybody in Kentucky and in agriculture and food needs a hand up right now.”
Beyond shopping local, the Cornett’s are proud to say they are GAP certified. Meaning inspectors come to look at their fields, greenhouses and sheds making sure everything is safe and noncontaminated.
“I wouldn’t eat at a restaurant that wasn’t health inspected, so I kind of want to provide that insurance to our customers that what you’re getting is just exactly what you think you’re getting,” she said.
Everything in the store is picked the night before or the morning of. “Nothing stays in the store past two days.”
And when asked, ‘What don’t they do?’
“Sleep, we don’t sleep very much around here. It is kind of burning the candle at both ends.”
All worth it to serve a community that helps them when they needed it most.
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