Roan Mountain Farmers Market gearing up for second season

Published 8:59 am Thursday, March 10, 2016

Star File Photo The Roan Mountain Farmers Market enjoyed a succesful first season last year as crowds came to pick up handmade crafts, hear some mountain music and buy local farm goods.

Star File Photo
The Roan Mountain Farmers Market enjoyed a succesful first season last year as crowds came to pick up handmade crafts, hear some mountain music and buy local farm goods.

Following a successful first year, the Roan Mountain Farmers Market is gearing up to once again bring fresh produce, farm goods, and handcrafted items to the community.
Anyone interested in taking part in the Farmers Market is invited to attend a special planning meeting on Monday, March 14, at 5:30 p.m. to be held in the agricultural classroom at the rear of Cloudland High School.
“The purpose of this meeting is to have vendors from last year share their experiences and ideas,” said Erik Anderson, one of the organizers for the Farmers Market and a member of the Roan Mountain Recreation Foundation.
At the meeting, Anderson said the group will discuss what worked last year, what didn’t work and possible changes people would like to see made to the market.
“Some of the vendors from last year suggested maybe we start it later in the year,” Anderson said.
Last year, the Roan Mountain Farmers Market opened on May 23, but it was a few weeks into the season before a lot of farmers were able to bring produce to sell. The reason behind that, Anderson said, is because the elevation level in Roan Mountain creates a different harvest schedule than is seen in the lower lying areas of the region.
“Our vegetables and even our fruits are actually coming in about six weeks later than they do down below,” Anderson said. “In some ways that is beneficial for the folks in the Tri-Cities.”
When harvests are ending in the low-lying areas, Anderson said the produce and fruits in Roan Mountain are still coming in strong. This allows shoppers to have a longer period of time they can access farm-fresh vegetables by visiting different farmers markets.
Anderson said the group will also discuss the days and hours the Roan Mountain Farmers Market will operate and will also discuss vendor fees. Last year, vendors were charged a one-time registration fee of $5 to cover the costs of record keeping and signage, and then had to pay a $5 space rental fee for each day they came to the market to sell goods.
Those fees may change this year, Anderson said, adding it will be discussed in the meeting and they will come up with something that is reasonable for everyone involved.
A variety of things can be sold at a farmers market under state regulations, but the most important keys are homegrown or homemade.
Farm goods like fresh vegetables, fruits and eggs can be sold as well as plant seedlings. Crafters can also ply their wares, as long as they are homemade items.
“We will provide them with a list of what they can sell and what they can’t,” Anderson said. “This is not for people who are interested in a flea market. This is not a flea market, this is a farmers market, and there are specific state rules and guidelines for farmers markets.”
Among the top sellers at any farmers market, Anderson said, are fresh picked corn, tomatoes and cucumbers.
“Those are things you can buy at the grocery store, but it’s probably a couple of weeks old already if you get it there,” he said. “It was fresh picked that morning if you get it at a farmers market.”
One of the things that he enjoyed the most about last year’s market season was the sense of community that developed.
“By the end of the third of fourth week the vendors had gotten to know each other,” he said. “They would come up to each other to talk and ask how they were doing.”
The market became a real community event as often times visitors would come to just to hang out and spend time with their friends and neighbors. Also, Anderson said, if you hung around, there was a good chance you would get to hear some old time mountain music.
“T.V. Barnett and his Mountain Moonshiners came out a few times and played music,” Anderson said.
Anyone who is interested in participating in this season’s Roan Mountain Farmers Market is invited to attend the planning meeting on Monday. Anderson said anyone wanting for more information on the market or has suggestions for the market can contact him by e-mail at or by telephone at 423-772-3010.

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