Unicoi board to give $500 to farmers market

Brad Hicks • Apr 17, 2012 at 8:50 AM

The planned town of Unicoi farmers market will receive a little start-up capital following a vote by the town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen at its regular meeting Monday.

By a 4-0 vote, the board approved its consideration of a $500 sponsorship for the farmers market. Alderman Michael Phillips, who is the chair of the town’s farmers market committee, abstained from voting.

Phillips said organizers have already met to work on the market’s by-laws. He also said those involved hope to kick off the farmers market June 3. For now, the intended location of the market is the property currently under development located off Exit 32 of Interstate 26, which is being referred to as Unicoi Village Place, although other possible locations were discussed Monday. Organizers plan to have the market to be open from 1-6 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays.

“The committee picked those days because no one else has a farmers market on Thursday afternoon or on a Sunday afternoon,” Phillips said. “We hope to be able to have some entertainment on Sunday afternoon, maybe some gospel groups.

“This is the first year, so we’re sort of playing it by ear, but we think we’ll be able to draw enough people from Johnson City and Erwin, and give both the vendors — the small farmers and gardeners — an opportunity to have a place nearby where they can sell a few bushels of beans, a few dozen ears of corn and it not cost them a fortune.”

Dues for vendors are $3 per day with a $25 membership fee, Phillips said. He also said the planned opening date for the market is subject to change based on the vendors ready to sell produce by the planned June 3 opening.

Phillips said the majority of the produce to be sold at the market will be locally grown from farmers in five local counties — Unicoi, Johnson, Washington, Greene and Carter counties. However, he said organizers will allow non-local produce to be brought in if items, such as peaches, are not grown locally.

“We do have a limit on outside produce of three bushels,” Phillips said. “Now we may waive that over things like peaches, pears and plums, that sort of produce that we do not have in this area.”

Phillips also said he wants the public to offer suggestions for the market.

“I would welcome the input,” he said.

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