Farmer’s Market coming soon to Roan Mountain

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A farmers market will be opening soon in Roan Mountain, giving local farmers and crafters a chance to sell their goods as well as an opportunity for the county to draw in some extra business from visitors.

One of the community members leading the charge to make the market a reality is County Commissioner Mike Hill, one of the representatives of the Roan Mountain district.

“During my campaign process, people brought lots of concerns and wishes to me. Some were pretty farfetched, but there were many great proposals that I deemed attainable, too,” Hill said.

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One of the things people asked for was help to create a farmers market in Roan Mountain.

“My research indicated there is currently no true farmers market in Carter County,” he said.

The Roan Mountain Farmers Market is scheduled to open May 23, and vendors are being sought at this time.

The farm-to-table movement is a rapidly growing trend, and nearby cities such as Johnson City in Tennessee and the towns of Newland, Banner Elk and Boone in North Carolina all have thriving farmers markets, Hill said.

Not only do markets such as these offer a place for people to come and buy locally grown foods and handmade goods, they help build a sense of community, Hill said.

“The farmers market becomes more of a community gathering,” he said. “People eagerly anticipate going to market day.”

The market in Roan Mountain could draw revenue into the county as visitors from the Tri-Cities and neighboring North Carolina communities come to Carter County to visit the market.

When visitors come to market day, they might spend money at other county businesses, buying food, snacks, drinks and fuel, Hill said.

Those additional purchases could help provide a boost to the county’s economy and tax revenue, he said.

“Sales and use tax revenue is critically needed here in a county where we bleed out millions in consumption taxes to outside locations,” Hill said.

The farmers market will provide the county with a new tourism opportunity, too.

“Culinary tourism is another hot trend right now,” Hill said. These kinds of visitors could be drawn to Roan Mountain by wineries, breweries, farming and agricultural co-ops, farmers markets and farm-to-table dining establishments.

“It all starts somewhere, even something basic like a farmers market,” Hill said.

Having the market will give Carter County one more tool to use to draw visitors into the county, Hill said.

“Carter County tourism development has barely scratched the surface of all promotional opportunities available with existing facilities and resources in this county,” he said. “If we wish to establish tourism as a sustaining economic generator, we must promote more than a festival and fishing opportunities. We must tap into all our rural unspoiled charm, agricultural enterprises, historical areas, sportsman activities, bird watching, naturalism, rafting, hiking, endurance sports — all these things are happening, here but we don’t tell anyone about them.”

During the drive to create the market, Hill said he has worked with several other county officials to make sure the proper channels are followed. Carter County Planning Director Chris Scheuttler helped to identify potential sites for the market among parcels from the flood disaster buyout of 1998, Hill said.

County Attorney Josh Hardin and County Clerk Mary Gouge provided guidance on the legal issues and tax matters, Hill said.

The decision was made to hold the market at the Roan Mountain Community Park as a project that will benefit the community in a number of ways.

Vendor fees will be collected and turned over the Carter County Athletic Corp. to be used to offset expenses at the community park such as electricity, maintenance and groundskeeping.

The market will be managed by students in the Cloudland High School Future Farmers of America chapter, under the guidance of their faculty advisor Lauren Turbyfill, to help fulfill their service requirement for participating in a supervised agricultural enterprise and their

The farmers market will open on Saturdays at 10 a.m. through the summer and autumn months, with opening day to be held on May 23.

The cost to rent a booth will be $5. No sales tax or vendor license is required to market home grown agricultural crops and handmade craft items, Hill said, adding that with handcrafts it is assumed that sales tax was paid on the raw materials at the time of purchase.

Vendors will be required to sign a liability waiver for Carter County.

For more information on the farmers market or how to become a vendor, contact Mike Hill toll free at 1-800-861-3729.

A Facebook group has also been set up for Roan Mountain Farmers Market and information is posted in that group.