There are good reasons not to publish an annual Kentucky Living agriculture issue like we’re doing this month. The main reason is that not many farmers receive Kentucky Living. Believe it or not, our surveys show just 4 percent of our readers live on a farm.
But in addition to those scientific phone surveys, we do another kind of research called focus groups. Basically, we sit around with a moderator and a small group of readers. Those folks tell us that farming is more than an occupation—it’s something basic and deep in their family roots and memories that is a big part of what makes them Kentuckians.
Of course that fancy research just confirms what your eyes and ears tell you as you live in Kentucky. Our relationship with the land makes us who we are.
There’s a complicated kind of nostalgia that goes along with the dominant and changing culture of tobacco farming.
The search to replace tobacco income is becoming a part of our farming culture. It seems like once a week someone sends us an announcement of a new tobacco alternative: hemp, cider, shrimp, goats, ostriches, pawpaws. Many of these may well be worthwhile ventures. But I’m usually skeptical of their promotional tone that seems to promise getting rich quick.
In this issue we cover what appears to be a more promising approach. The Kentucky Fresh article describes an effort to make all of these ideas successful. What may work for one farmer may be a disaster for another. Kentucky Fresh offers a single way to promote a variety of crops and livestock.
You can find a lot more clarity when it comes to the number-one ag industry: horses. A few months ago, our Snapshots column called for readers to send in photos of “Me and my horse.” We received more pictures than we ever have for that column. Kentuckians love their horses. So in this issue you’ll find an in-depth look at the horse business in Kentucky.
I hope horses and Kentucky Fresh offer two good reasons we should publish an annual agriculture issue. Enjoy.