Farmers Market Week: Buy local during peak production season

Published 12:36 pm Friday, August 5, 2022

August is peak produce time in Tennessee for many of your favorite fruits and vegetables. Farmers markets as well as local produce markets are packed with fresh produce. Aug. 7-13 is National Farmers Market Week and is the perfect time to stock up and support local farmers.
“Farmers markets play an essential role in communities by creating space for connection and actively fostering more resilient local food systems,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M., said. “Making the local connection and developing a relationship with the farmers producing your food is the perfect way to support your local community and economy.”
Locally, farmers are invited to sell their produce at the Covered Bridge Park each Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. On a recent market day, there were home-grown onions, tomatoes, cabbage, corn, cucumbers and squash available — all fresh. The Elizabethton Farmers Market is a 100 percent producer-only market. This means that they do not allow any resale of produce. Most farmers markets allow resellers to purchase cheap bulk produce from big box stores and then mark it up to sell at their market booth. At the Elizabethton Farmers Market, only produce that is grown by farmers in or adjacent to Carter County is sold. Every dollar you spend at the market goes directly to a tax paying farmer in this community.
When you go to the local farmers market, you can make a whole trip out of it. Such markets give people the ability to interact with their friends and family in a new space, and they get to explore the food together.
Among local farms which sell their produce at the market are Golden Roots Farm, A Bushel and a Peck Farm, Hollow Branch Farm, Mountain Stream Farm, Greiber Family Farm, Green Phoenix Farm, Friendly Farm, Worsham Spring Farm, Elysium Farm, Miller Branch Farm and Twisted Oak Farm.
In addition to the farmers market, there are several local vegetable markets located in the area, among them Farmer John’s in the west end of town, Largent’s Market on Stateline Road, and markets in Roan Mountain as well as Hughes Market at Powder Branch, and Keith Hart’s Red Barn market in the Laurels Area, which in the fall features home-grown pumpkins. Also, local supermarkets sell fruits and vegetables grown in the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia area. Not to mention Scott’s Market in neighboring Unicoi, which grows its own produce.
Among fresh vegetables which can be purchased locally are green beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and cucumbers, just to name a few of the products sold at local and area markets.
As individuals and families, we can commit to shopping as frequently as possible at these markets and other environmentally conscious food stores. We can have a large impact by doing the small stuff.
A thriving farmers market not only serves as a community centerpiece, it also means much-needed income for local vendors.
There was a time when most families grew a garden. They raised their own vegetables, canned or froze their produce for use during the winter months. Likewise, they grew a crop of potatoes, housewives made jams and jellies made from fruits grown in local orchards. Now, vegetable gardens are pretty much a thing of the past, and families now must depend on these local markets for fresh vegetables.
Farmers markets are usually thought of as just featuring fruits and vegetables, but the Elizabethton Farmers Market features plenty of different foods and unique items. Locally-sourced meats, free range eggs, jellies and baked goods, raw honey, and artisan crafts are available every week.
And do not be surprised to find live music and entertainment, food trucks, and more, which is a great reason to bring the entire family.
There’s something special about going to a local market and picking out fresh delicious vegetables and fruit to enjoy, and there’s no better time to do that than this week for National Farmers Market Week.

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