Local vendors and visitors exchange pleasantries during the Winter Farmers Market at the lower level of the Johnson County Welcome Center. The event is scheduled to move to its new location this spring. Photo by Dennis Shekinah.

By Jill Penley

Freelance Writer

Since its founding in 2009 as a non-profit to aid in strengthening and sustaining the local agricultural and food economy, the Johnson County Farmers Market has been looking for a place to call home.
The initial years, fresh local produce, local handmade crafts, homemade bread, jams, and jellies were offered in the Shouns community utilizing a borrowed Quonset hut.
In 2012, the county board of commissioners unanimously approved the use of the large parking lot adjacent to the courthouse for the weekly farmers market.
“These locations have served us well as the community has supported us in good weather and not so good weather,” said Jana Jones, JCFM manager. “But, we have longed for a permanent, covered space to call our home that would allow customers to shop out of the rain and ease vendors’ fears of their tents being blown away by wind gusts that can occur out of nowhere here in the mountains.”
After getting approval from the city council to relocate to Ralph Stout Park Last year, the Town of Mountain City, with the help of the Johnson County Farmers Market, applied for a USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Grant and a Rural Business Development Grant in hopes of funding the planned pavilion to serve as the permanent home for the JCFM on Saturday mornings.
For the remainder of the time, the pavilion would serve the community as a beautiful timber-framed picnic shelter.
“The footprint of the shelter will be over 3,000 square feet and will complement the existing stage construction,” Jones said. “Architect and Engineer Eric Nordmark has designed a beautiful timber-framed pavilion and will be working with General Contractor Alan Hammons to gather bids for the project.”
Jones further explained the design, which is made up of two 30’X50’ buildings set at an angle that is attached to the center by the roof structure covering. The location at Ralph Stout Park will be behind the existing stage in the grassy area below Highway 421.
Until spring temperatures allow, the newly-established Johnson County Winter Farmers Market is located in the lower level of the Johnson County Welcome Center from 9 am to noon every Saturday between now and the end of April.

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