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Johnson County Farmers Market inspires new growth

By Lacy Hilliard
Tomahawk Writer/Photographer

The Johnson County Farmers Market is open for business and heading into its fifth season. Located in the Johnson County Courthouse parking lot (110 Court Street, Mountain City), the market offers a bit of something for everyone.
From locally grown veggies, to baked and canned goods, to crafts; the Johnson County Farmers Market attracts an eclectic array of vendors. In attendance at Saturday’s (June 1) market were Karen’s Cakes; offering a delectable array of homemade cakes, Bekah’s Goodies; offering freshly baked breads, Sweet Spring Farm; offering farm fresh vegetables and herbs, Singing Waters Farm; offering fresh veggies, canned goods, and more, Aunt Charlene’s Homemade Jelly; offering delicious homemade jellies, Lyn’s Photo Art; offering a variety of photographic creations, Warped Wood Bench Company; offering beautifully handcrafted furniture and Chestnut Grove Farms; offering locally raised meat. Also in attendance was Webb Griffith– a representative of the Watauga Sierra Club, which serves both Johnson and Carter counties. Giffith informed The Tomahawk that the Watauga Sierra Club is always welcoming new members and that the club will be taking a 163-mile canoeing tour of the French Broad River on June 19. For more information about the Sierra Club and upcoming club trips, visit tennessee.sierraclub.org/watauga
The Johnson County Farmers Market has certain requirements for its vendors. The guidelines help to ensure that the market keeps in line with its mission –to provide fresh foods and handmade goods; grown and created by friends and neighbors. Each vendor must reside within a 150-mile radius of Johnson County. At the June 1 market, the majority of the vendors were from Johnson County with one or two Carter and Watauga County vendors. The market has a ‘50% rule’ meaning that 50% of the produce a vendor is selling must be grown by the vendor and 50% can be grown elsewhere just so long as it still falls within the 150-mile radius rule. The cost to vend at the market is just $5.00. If you’re interested in becoming a vendor please visit the JCFM website at www.johnsoncountyfarmersmarket.org for all appropriate applications and information.
As awareness about the struggling world food system continues to grow, farmers markets are gaining popularity across the nation. It is estimated that food travels an average of 1,500 miles before reaching grocery store shelves. Studies have shown that the longer the journey from farm to table, the fewer nutrients the produce possesses. Promoters of the ‘farm fresh’ mentality also work to raise awareness about the massive amount of carbon emissions associated with the transport of food. Researchers are on their side. It is estimated that one-third of the worlds carbon emissions are directly related to agriculture and the production/transport of food.
The Johnson County Farmers Market is open on Saturday’s from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and many special events are planned for this season. Every second Saturday of the month the market will sponsor a variety of children’s activities.
One of the upcoming activities includes a pipe cleaner jewelry-making workshop. Live music is also in the works for the upcoming season and the market was hard at work over the winter obtaining $15,000 in grants in order to secure the future of the market. Market Manager Elizabeth Taft is passionate about the upcoming season and has high hopes that the best is yet to come. The market accepts cash, debit, credit, and EBT cards. For EBT customers, the market offers a “Double your dollars” program that is sponsored by the Wholesome Wave Foundation. The program enables EBT users to double their money while purchasing healthy and wholesome locally grown foods.

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