Jarrod E. Stephens
The Ashland Beacon
Most generally when you speak of a “Jack of all-trades” someone will follow up with the statement, “But a master of none.” In the case of Ed Brown, he truly is a Jack of all-trades, and also the master of the Boyd County Farmers Market. If you’ve been to the market at any of its locations, then you’ve seen the white-whiskered man keeping order at the market.
Brown has been the market master for 20 years and certainly loves being there. “I just enjoy the people,” Brown said. “Having people to stop by and talk is what I love.” Hang out anywhere near his canopy and you’ll see that dozens of folks stop by each day just for a hand shake or laugh.
In the 20 years that he’s held the position as market master, Brown has seen a dramatic change. “We used to have 25 to 30 farmers each week, but they got old and died off. The kids just didn’t want to keep farming.” There’s hope, however. “We really do have some younger farmers getting back into it and raising produce.”
Ed Brown learned to love agriculture as he spent time on his grandparents’ farm. His grandparents were from Elliot County and they raised their own produce, butchered their own meat, and canned their produce. “We learned things the hard way from our grandfather,” he said. “We learned to butcher, can produce and cut wood.”
As it is with many service-minded people in our region, Ed joined the military and proudly served his country. Brown enlisted in the United States Navy and served from 1958-1980. During his years of service, he enjoyed his travels. “I really liked Barcelona, Athens and the Caribbean,” he said. “Navy sailors don’t just lean on a rail and watch waves. We really had fun.” Early in his service it wasn’t uncommon for a cruise to last 13-14 months so keeping things nailed down at home was tough. Brown was a Machinist Mate and proudly stated, “I enjoyed my Navy life.”
Brown’s family has a long history of service for our country. His father served in the United States Army. He also had three brothers who served, two in the Navy and one served in the United States Air Force.
In the years following his retirement from the Navy, Brown got back into farming a little. “I raised a small garden, had berries and raised rabbits and chickens.” He gave up farming, but it seemed only fitting that he’d again find himself serving others while getting to spend time with folks whom he enjoyed being with.
Aside from holding the position of market master, he loves wood carving and has been the president of a carving club. “I’ve got wood carvings all over the world,” Brown said. “I’ve got them in California, Wyoming, all up and down the East Coast and even in the Netherlands.” When he isn’t carving, he spends his time reading his favorite novels which, in most cases, probably involves a cowboy or two.
At 79 years-young, there’s no way of really knowing just how long Ed Brown plans to continue as the market master at the Boyd County Farmers Market. However, one thing is for certain; he plans to at least show his whiskered face around the market for many more years. “When I’m 110 years old I want to come out here and buy vegetables.”