The farmers market in Stamping Ground is a lot like the town itself — small, but welcoming.
Set up from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Friday, it’s in a grassy lot a short walk from city hall.
Eddie Fowler from Singing Whale Farm is down the hill selling his yard-long beans, two kinds of cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes and basil. Then there is Ann Brooks Waller with an array of bright flowers, including some wildflowers she picked herself earlier in the day. Diana Hogan is offering Bluegrass Meadows Beef raised on her family’s farm.
The heat means business is slow but steady; still, it’s more activity than usual on a Friday evening in this Scott County town.
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The farmers market is the brainchild of Waller, and it’s part of a rising level of community spirit being fostered by Mayor Kayla Jones.
“I was just excited when they started having meetings about what they were going to do,” Waller said. “I think this a place that Stamping Ground needed, where people can come and gather together and fellowship and buy good produce and support their local farmers.”
Stamping Ground was founded in 1790. By 1834 it had 300 people, according to the city’s website, and “four stores, two blacksmith shops, one school under the management of W.H. Cooper, and containing some forty-five pupils. One distillery, one hotel, one undertaker, one photographer, four physicians, two churches and one colored church and school, one Masonic Lodge, No. 203 and one woolen factory.”
I think this a place that Stamping Ground needed, where people can come and gather together and fellowship and buy good produce and support their local farmers.
Ann Brooks Waller
The Masonic Lodge is still there, and there are now six churches, a Dollar General, and 691 people. However, Jones said, the spirit went out of the town when Main Street was destroyed by an April 3 tornado in 1974.
“It was just never the same after that,” Jones said.
Jones is working to change that. A whiteboard in her city hall office is littered with yellow sticky notes detailing who knows whom and what kind of connection is needed where.
Professional storyteller Buck Creacy, who has a farm off Switzer Road, is helping Jones map a strategy. “I’ve marketed my own business, but I’ve never marketed a town,” he said, “but Mayor Kayla asked me to help, and I’m going to help.”
They have plans big and small. They’ve already spruced up Main Street. An abandoned building across from city hall has been spruced up with some bright blue ribbons, a pair of American flags and two bike sculptures. They are working on plans to build a community center.
Creacy and Jones were not born here, but they’ve come to love the slow pace and open spaces of the place they call home.
“Last week I was hanging banners, and a guy stopped and asked me if I needed help,” Jones said, adding that Stamping Ground is the kind of place where when a family recently lost a son, the community supported them with casseroles and kind words.
There are plans afoot for a Christmas parade, and they say several hundred turned out for the first Fourth of July parade on July 2.
Creacy drove a gypsy wagon and wore a helmet with Viking horns, and the parade contained everything from tractors to bikes to an antique fire truck.
Jones, who makes $50 a month in her job as mayor, tears up as she shares a thank-you note dropped off at city hall.
“‘Thank you very much for the July parade. I enjoyed seeing the collectible fire truck. It brought back so many memories as it was always in the Christmas parade when I was a child. Again, thanks — Citizen of the Town.’”
Stamping Ground facts
- Population: 691
- Population change since 2000: 22 percent increase.
- Median age: 37.1
- The first settlement was a fort built in 1790 by Anthony Lindsay.
- Notorious outlaw Jessie James was the grandson of Anthony Lindsay.
- Town was named for buffalo that stomped while waiting their turn to drink from a salt spring.
- It is the only city called Stamping Ground in the world.