By Bethany Anderson
The Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) may finally have found the permanent home it has been seeking since its inception more than ten years ago.
Recently an opportunity presented itself for the market to take advantage of a series of events that would lead to a permanent home in downtown Mountain City that many agree would be ideal for several reasons.
The most obvious being that the market would no longer need to relocate seasonally.
The JCFM has had many locations and has continued to grow and thrive at each one. Most recently the market has been held at Ralph Stout Park during the summer months and indoors at the Welcome Center during the winter months to provide a “year-round” market.
According to Mountain City and Johnson County officials, the opportunity for a JCFM permanent location involves the Johnson County Airport that has been awarded a grant to help make improvements to the airport. The plan includes removing and replacing some of the older hangars.
The hangars that are to be removed would then be available for a variety of uses by others. One idea has been the topic of discussion between the Johnson County Farmers Market, The Johnson County Tourism & Development Council, The Johnson County Board of Commissioners, The Mountain City Board of Alderman, and a local landowner (who wishes at this time to remain anonymous).
The plan is for the airport to gift a hangar to Johnson County, which will in turn gift it to the Johnson County Farmers Market.
The parcel of land proposed for this project is currently vacant and is located along Main St (between the former Sassy Cats location and Cornetts store) in the heart of downtown Mountain City.
The land to place the hangar on would come from the town of Mountain City and would be available as a “multi-use” location for many possible uses beyond the Farmers Market.
The money to make all this possible would come from a $75,000 Tourism Enhancement Grant from the state of Tennessee. The joint effort is enthusiastically endorsed
by both Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor and Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons. When it was brought to a vote at this month’s County Commission Meeting, the motion to endorse this project passed unanimously.
County Mayor Mike Taylor said, “If we can get this downtown, I believe this would be a good start to revitalize our downtown.”
Airport manager David Garris added, “I’m glad to be able to give back in some way.” He also said, “I’d hate to see it (the hangar) just thrown away.”
Mayor Kevin Parsons said, “I’ll take this to the council and see what they say, but I’m excited to get this going. It could be really good for our town.”
Next moves involve Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons presenting this to the Board of Alderman for their official vote regarding the land. Once that happens, the project will move forward as quickly as possible,
given the multiple steps that will need to occur with all parties participating in the project.
“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming a healthy, prosperous food system,” says Jen Cheek, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Vendors are teaching customers about agriculture and sharing recipes and new foods with their neighbors. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier.”
For more information on the Johnson County Farmers Market, visit their website at johnsoncountyfm.com or email [email protected]