I’m thrilled to report that this week will mark the opening days of some of our area farmers markets. This Thursday, April 15th the Farmer's Market at New Harvest Park (near Target on Washington Pike) opens for the season. They are open from 3-6pm on Thursdays.
Starting Friday, April 16th and Tuesday, April 20th, (3-6pm) the Laurel Church of Christ Farmers Market will open in the parking lot at 1111 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919.
This Saturday and Sunday (4/17 opening at 9am and 18 ending at 3pm), visit some of your favorite food and farm vendors from the Market Square Farmers’ Market during a preview event part of the Dogwood Arts Festival. May 1st is the official opening day of the Market Square Farmers Market, and I’ve already received news that Three Rivers Market will be set up with loads of goodies and giveaways.
The opening day of the market is so exciting for me. It is filled with hope, nostalgia, visits with friends, and all of the sights, sounds, and smells of the season.
What to look for at the market this time of the year:
- Restock your freezer with locally grown, organic/grassfed beef and other meat options. Dave Waters is my favorite meat farmer.
- Colleen Cruze of Cruze Dairy Farm often sets up with milk during the market season. If you like homemade biscuits or just enjoy buttermilk, I highly recommend her buttermilk. She also makes the best dang chocolate milk around! Really, the stuff is like crack! ;)
- Look for local honeys to restock your pantry. Some vendors might also have canned foods like preserves, relishes, salsas, and jellies.
- For fresh veggies, look for spring onions/green onions, lettuce mixes, asparagus, greens, kale, herbs, and if you are lucky you might find someone selling morels. Pick up locally made breads and locally grown eggs.
- If you visit the New Harvest Park or the Laurel Church of Christ markets, I highly recommend that you visit Bob Due’s booth. Not only is his food delicious, he is a wealth of information. In the late summer, he has the best darn sweet potatoes you could imagine. My mouth is watering right now thinking about how sweet they are!
- Adrienne and Mac of A Place of the Heart Farms have become more than friends to us over the last few years. I’m not sure if they will be set up this week or will wait until May 1st, but they can be found at the Market Square Farmers Market. You’ll find some varieties of foods that you might not see at other stands. They use biodynamic growing methods. They are some of the most precious people ever—love those folks!
- JD Dimmick is another wonderful farmer and resource for this community. His food is grown using organic methods and is quite reasonably priced for such. Not only is he a super nice guy, I have always found him receptive to questions. If he doesn’t have something at his stand, he is generous enough to direct you to a farmer at the market who might have what you want.
- As you know, I have had several guest posts from Good Earth Farmers. They offer a garden delivery service, and at least at this point, do not plan on meeting at the farmers markets yet. I’ll keep you posted if I learn differently from Theresa and Stephen.
I love to go to the market when the farmers are setting up, when everything is fresh and crisp, when people have the time to talk with you. Granted, you might have more options for a few deals later in the day when farmers want to move more of their goods, but you also have fewer options on varieties of foods. If you want berries or asparagus, you must get to the market early.
During the growing season, I really don’t have as much of a need for the grocery store. I can buy sweetener in the form of honey, breads, meat/poultry, milk(s), fruits and veggies all in the same place. Further into the summer, I can even pick up a flower arrangement for my table. All of that and I am supporting local farmers and building our community food systems! The money we pay our farmers goes directly into their hands. When money is paid to farmers through the grocery system, only about 10% of that money ends up in the hands of the people that grew it. Money going directly to farmers also means that more of that money stays in our community via taxes paid and money spent by them and their families. In my opinion, farmers markets are a win-win situation.
If you are in the Knoxville area, who are your favorite farmers? If you are outside of the area, I’d love to hear about your local farmers markets. What do you like about visiting the markets? What are your tips for scoring the best deals?