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Local Farmers' Market proves fertile ground for new educational program

We all know the farmers’ market is an excellent place for picking up fresh fruits and vegetables. This summer, in addition to picking up some home grown tomatoes, you can pick up some research-based knowledge as well. The University of Tennessee (UT) Extension in Johnson County will be at the market offering food demonstrations, as well as selection and storage suggestions for the flavorful fruit and vegetables available at the market. The demonstrations and outreach are part of a new UT Extension program called Farmers’ Market Fresh.
According to Dr. Christopher Sneed with UT Extension, the primary objective of the Farmers’ Market Fresh program is to encourage purchasing of fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ markets. “We are particularly interested in helping limited-resource families, especially those receiving EBT/ SNAP have access to fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market. We hope our presence at the market along with the food demonstrations, tastings, and activities will encourage people to check out all the market has to offer,” states Sneed.
Throughout the summer, members of the local UT Extension office will have a booth at the market where they will be offering food demonstrations, recipes, and research-based advice on the best ways to select and store some of our favorite summertime items. The best part of the program – each person who stops by the booth will receive a recipe card for the food being demonstrated that day. At the end of the season, consumers could have an entire collection of recipes all featuring items fresh from the farmers’ market. Recipes to be featured include: apple salad, a refreshing blueberry smoothie, broccoli salad, corn relish salad, cucumber relish, green bean salad, a yummy yogurt peach parfait, a tri-pepper salad that will make you want seconds, summer squash with pasta, sweet potato pancakes, fresh tomato bruschetta, and cantaloupe salad. “We intentionally picked recipes that would be easy to prepare,” states Dr. Janie Burney of UT Extension. “Summer in Tennessee can be hot. So, we selected recipes that did not involve using the stove or oven. We wanted foods that were cool, refreshing, and delicious.” And, it just so happens they are all really good for you as well.
Grown-ups are not the only ones who will enjoy a stop by the Farmers’ Market Fresh booth. The young ones are sure to enjoy a sample of the food prepared. In addition, they will be able to participate in a weekly children’s challenge. Through the challenge, they are able to earn prizes for the fruits and vegetables their families purchase, prepare, and taste at home. There is even some buzz that a special visitor – Rudy the Raccoon – may make an appearance at the market. To participate, all you need to do is stop by the Farmers’ Market Fresh booth for all the details.

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