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Area farmers market season gets growing

Johnson City Press • Apr 22, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Local options for fresh produce are growing as farmers markets prepare for the start of the season.

One new market, at the Mountain Home Veterans Affairs Medical Center, will join the established markets in the region later this month. Organizers said veteran farmers will have priority for the vendor spots, and the hope for the market is that it will allow patients, center staff and members of the public to make healthy diet choices.

The VA market was scheduled on Thursdays so it wouldn’t interfere with others nearby.

Though they’ve been operating for several years, some markets are adding new features.

Starting in May, the town of Unicoi will combine its weekly market with its community yard sale, a popular event that allows residents to sell off their unwanted items. Director of Communications and Programs Ashley Shelton said the change will diversify the market’s vendors and provide more things to do.

In Jonesborough, the community-run, producer-only farmers market starts in May, but its companion, the Boone Street Market, a brick-and-mortar store also run by Jonesborough Locally Grown, held a grand opening last week. The Boone Street Market closed in December for an expansion construction project and welcomed members and residents back in grand style on April 13.

Last year, the Johnson City Farmers Market joined other area markets by imposing a locally produced radius for its vendors’ products. The 150-mile area restriction was instituted to improve the quality of the products offered, said the market’s board of directors.

Elizabethton’s market is planning a venue change. After spending last year across from City Hall on North Sycamore Street, the Downtown Elizabethton Farmers Market will shutdown East Elk Avenue between Post Office Street and the intersection of North and South Riverside Drive starting in June.

City Council members approved the move this year in hopes that the market will draw more people to the city’s downtown core.

See below for more information about area farmers markets.

Jonesborough

Opening day: May 4

Open 8 a.m. to noon each Saturday through October, Courthouse Square

This community-run, producer-only market requires that all of the products sold be produced by the farmer or artisan. No reselling is allowed. The market is organized by Jonesborough Locally Grown, which also runs the year-round Boone Street Market, 101 Boone St.

Johnson City

Opening day: April 24

Open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays (except for on dates of city festivals) through October, Pavilion at Founders Park, South Commerce Street.

Organizers expect more than 30 vendors on opening day with a variety of fresh produce to baked goods, garden plants, flowers, homemade soaps, dog treats and fresh coffees. To ensure the freshest goods, a restriction of 150 mile radius is placed on vendors.

EBT / SNAP will be offered to customers to help with making fresh choices.

Elizabethton

Opening day: June 4

Open 3-8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sept. 24, East Elk Avenue between Post Office Street and the intersection of North and South Riverside Drive

Vendors can be farmers or backyard gardeners who grow their own produce within a 100 mile radius of Elizabethton. Preference is given to vendors who do not use chemicals or pesticides on their produce.

Baked good and processed food vendors must comply with all state, USDA and TDA regulations regarding their products. Home-baked goods are allowed if produced according to the guidelines of the Cottage Food Law.

All crafts must be handmade by the craft vendor, and must reflect quality of craftsmanship and honor Appalachian artistry. Priority is given to artists who use locally sourced materials in their works. Craft vendor spaces will only be offered once a month, so space is limited! 

ETSU

Open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays from the Monday after Spring Break (March 18) until the end of April. In the fall, the market begins the first week of classes (Aug. 26) and will run through the first week of November. Located on the Pride Walk on ETSU’s campus.

Mountain Home VA

Opening day: April 25

Open from 2:30-6:30 p.m. Thursdays through October.

Vendor applications are still being accepted. Veteran farmers will get priority considerations, but all applications will be considered by the committee.

Community members planning to attend the market are asked to enter the VA grounds from West State of Franklin Road and take a right at the fork (toward the lake) and follow that road to the market.

Unicoi

Opening day: May 28

Open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays through October, 106 Unicoi Village Place, Unicoi (off Exit 32).

Vendors offer produce, eggs and baked goods. This year, the farmers market will be combined with the community yard sale. Craft demonstrations and musical entertainment will be provided periodically throughout the summer.

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