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Farmers Market opens early at Ralph Stout Park

Loyal Farmers Market customers and vendors attend the Saturday, April 18 opening at Ralph Stout Park. Submitted photo

By Tamas Mondovics

While the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, some functions, including Farmers Markets, have been considered essential businesses by our Governor, Bill Lee. With some adjustments that affect its vendors and customers along with some ingenuity, Johnson County Farmers Market administration was pleased to announce plans to open early this year at Ralph Stout Park, 210 Old South Church St, Mountain City, TN. The market operates from 9-12 Saturday mornings. Reopening was scheduled for the third weekend in April, which aside from the unpleasant morning weather, allowed farmers to provide seasonal veggies, baked goods, and crafts to the community and surrounding areas.Of course, things were a bit different due to health guidelines concerning the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We will not be hosting a vendor meeting at this time, this will be scheduled at a later date when possible,” said JCFM Board of Directors President, Christina Combs.

Comb emphasized that a number of guidelines were put in place to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.

Jennifer Skarsaune is the new Market Manager, for the Johnson County Farmers Market.

We ask all vendors and customers to abide by these guidelines for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak,’ she said.

Safety Guidelines During Market Participation include: booths will be double spaced, six feet line spacing in front of booths are marked on the ground, vendors are asked to have sanitizer and bleach wipes at their booths. While wearing disposable gloves and facemasks are not required, it is, however asked to be considered. Pre-orders are strongly encouraged to keep the recommended self-distancing suggestions.

“We ask everyone to be mindful of how long they stay at each booth,” Combs said. “An outdoor hand washing station is also available all.

The Johnson County Farmers Market is a non-profit organization. All funds to support the market come from our vendors and occasional grants we are awarded. The funds go toward advertising and paying the JCFM manager. JCFM Board of Directors is a voluntary board; its members do not receive any compensation for their time and efforts. Of course, JCFM is counting its vendors and customers to continue to participate in ensuring a successful market season.

“Without you, our vendors and customers, we would not have Johnson County Farmers Market,” Combs said.

Additional changes will also affect the JCFM token and gift certificate system.

“Our Credit Card and EBT tokens will have a new look,” Combs said. “Also, for the 2020 season tokens and gift certificates are good from the first Market day through our last market in October. The Maximum amount per gift certificate is $25.00.

JoCo tokens, EBT, or Credit Card tokens from the 2019 season, are void and cannot be accepted in our 2020 season. JCFM also welcomes its new Market Manager, Jennifer Skarsaune, a regular customer supporter of the market and local to Johnson County, who can be reached at [email protected] for any questions.

Those interested in participating in the 2020 Market Season as a vendor are encouraged to submit a New Vendor application by May 2 at