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Farmer’s Market off to a good start last Saturday

By Paula Walter
The Johnson County Farmer’s Market opened this past weekend as vendors and shoppers alike welcomed the start of the new season. The market not only provides a venue to purchase homegrown and homemade items, but it is a social event as people mingle about and get to know one another.
Nine vendors, up from the seven on opening day last year, were ready with fresh spring vegetables, homemade cupcakes and a selection of hand crafted items, local eggs and beef. According to Robert Back, market manager, the farmer’s market will begin to pick up in the next two to three weeks as produce begins to come in. “I know it will pick up,” he said.” It’s always slow at first.” Last year, there were on average 19 vendors a week and Back is already getting lots of interest. In addition to managing the Johnson County Farmers Market, Back runs Mountain Angel Farm and raises turkey, chicken, goats and ducks that are then processed for consumption. He will also have both duck and chicken eggs for sale.
Keith from Chestnut Grove Farms in Watauga County was at the market on opening day with a variety of beef, including New York strip, rib eye and hamburger among other choices. His beef is grass fed and he does not fatten the cattle on grains. He will have collards, spinach, kale, and three different kinds of potatoes, garlic and squash in the upcoming months.
Joseph Townsend of Appalachian Candle Company was at the farmer’s market with his soy-based hand poured candles that are made locally. He has 34 different scents available for sale. Tamara McNaughton of TNT Farm N Greenhouse in Meadowview, Virginia was there with a variety of vegetable plants including tomato, jalapeno and bell peppers, herbs, arugula and eggplant. According to McNaughton, she will be back next week with more plants. She carries a favorite of many local growers, the Cherokee purple tomato.
Nancy and Bob Hulcher were at the farmer’s market and headed right away over to purchase some of Blevins’ free-range chicken eggs. “They are wonderful, with a big yolk,” said Nancy Hulcher. “We couldn’t wait for this to open up to get good eggs.” They also carry a sweet homemade barbecue, strawberry jam and honey. The Blevins plan on being at the market on a weekly basis.
Kim Reece is the Mi Mi of Mi Mi’s Cupcakes. This week, she had several different types of cupcakes that she made early that morning. “We had a really good turnout out today,” she said. Among her many choices of desserts were a rhubarb lemon sour cream cake with a ginger butter cream and an Italian ricotta lemon cupcake with a rich lemon flavored icing.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.