Lucky Clover Farms' Gina Micciche, left, and Joseph Farmer chat with two Kroger managers at the 2014 Buy Local Kroger Food Show last July in Louisville. (Kentucky Department of Agriculture photo)
Lucky Clover heirloom tomato plants are in season at Kroger and on the Web
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
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RICHMOND, Ky. – They come in interesting names like Abe Lincoln, Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad, Black Mountain Pink, Cherokee Purple, Grandfather Ashlock, and Kentucky Cabin.
But they aren’t a person, color, or place.
They are six varieties of heirloom tomato plants that Lucky Clover Farm near Richmond is selling this spring at 48 select Kroger stores in eastern Kentucky, including Richmond, as well as Lexington and Louisville.
The top seller is Cherokee Purple.
“It’s a delicious tomato,” said Gina Micciche, owner/operator Joseph “Joey” Farmer’s partner and the farm’s unofficial spokesperson. “It is really good.”
Farmer starts the heirloom seeds, which the farm also sells for those who like to raise the plants themselves, under grow lights before transferring them to a greenhouse.
“All of them are naturally grown; there are no chemicals on them,” Micciche said.
If you plan on planting tomatoes this year, Micciche said now is the time to get them in the ground.
“Right now is the prime time,” she said. “Joey doesn’t plant them in the heat of the day. He waits until a cloudy day or later on when sun is not shining directly. But an overcast sky is best.”
For those who like someone else to do the growing, Lucky Clover Farm does that too on 2½ of the farm’s 5 acres. “He puts a minimum of 2,500 plants in the ground every year,” Micciche noted.
Another acre is devoted to a variety of vegetables such as cucumbers, squash, and zucchini; assorted herbs, including basil, cilantro, mint, oregano, parsley, and spearmint; several varieties of hot peppers; and assorted annual flowering plants.
While Farmer handles the growing, Micciche produces value-added products such as jams and jellies. Since last November, their products have been sold in 60 Kroger stores under the Lucky Clover Farm label as part of the Kentucky Proud/Kroger partnership.
“Everything is as local as can be,” Micciche said. “If we don’t grow it, I get it from a local farm.”
Lucky Clover Farm sources Kentucky Proud strawberries from Marcum Farm in Waco, Kentucky Proud apples from Evans Orchard and Cider Mill in Georgetown, and wild blackberries picked in Estill County.
Micciche said putting those Kentucky Proud stickers on her jars has boosted sales.
“I know that product that I put the Kentucky Proud stickers on sells immediately,” she said. “The logo catches their eye, and they know what it is.”
Founded in 2009, Lucky Clover Farm is in its seventh year. It is also a member of the Appalachia Proud program.
“We want to get as local as possible, right down to the people who work for us,” Micciche said. “When we need help, we try to hire workers from Appalachia.”
Micciche makes her jams and jellies, as well as baked breads using fruit or herbs grown on the farm, at the Jackson County Regional Food Center, a certified commercial kitchen in nearby Annville.
Lucky Clover Farm uses the kitchen to make dried tomatoes.
“The commercial kitchen ordered a dehydrator for us because our dried tomatoes are selling wonderfully at farmers’ markets,” Micciche said. “So we will start packaging and selling them, too.”
If you can’t find Lucky Clover Farm heirloom tomatoes or jams and jellies at your local Kroger, you can order them in three ways: call Gina at (859) 779-8522, email the farm at LuckyCloverFarm@gmail.com, or log onto the farm’s Facebook page.