By Jana Jones
Farmers Market Manager
The new Christian Life Center in downtown Mountain City made a perfect venue for the 2nd annual Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) Harvest Celebration Dinner which was held Saturday evening, August 18th. The evening opened with a silent auction where guests could bid on items ranging from a basket of produce to gift certificates for quiche and meats, original prints, ceramics, quilts, and baskets of preserves, soaps, crafts, and jewelry.
Richard Calkins, JCFM board president, opened up the evening. “2018 marks our 10th year serving Johnson County. We want to recognize all of the previous JCFM board members in the past 10 years that laid the foundation for the successful market we have today.”
Calkins welcomed over 100 guests and thanked Craig Cox and his Culinary Arts class from the Johnson County High School for preparing and serving the farm to table meal. Each dish was prepared from produce and meat bought from local farmers.
The corn bread was made from fresh ground organic dried corn. The gravy was made from bone broth made with grass fed beef bones from Chestnut Grove Farms. Even the coffee was home roasted locally. The delicious traditional Appalachian menu of pasture raised pork, chicken, organic stuffed squash, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, greasy beans, shelly beans, deviled eggs, apple stack cake and blueberry crisp was served family style. No one went home hungry!
After the meal, Jana Jones, the JCFM Market Manager, expressed gratitude for the 2018 volunteers that help make the market run smoothly. Gifts of custom made pottery were handed out in appreciation of their dedication. All of the corporate sponsors and Friends of the Market supporters were also recognized. Jones spoke about the new JCFM programs that were initiated this year.
“We are one of the few markets in our area that now offer year round local fresh products.”
The JCFM Winter Market will begin inside the Welcome Center basement as soon as the outdoor market ends the last Saturday of October. The new Tuesday Market started in July as a trial. Jones stated that the success of offering a mid-week afternoon market for the convenience of the working public in the county will depend on the demand. For this season the plan is for the Tuesday Market, which runs from 3:30 to 6:30 at Ralph Stout Park, to operate through September.
Other programs that began in 2018 include Breakfast at the Market, the first Saturday “How To” Classes, and the GoJoCo Kids Club. Dwayne Dixon, pastor of the First Christian Church and member of the GoJoCo Committee, spoke of the state wide Healthier Tennessee Initiative and the goal of the GoJoCo movement: Encouraging one another to live healthier lifestyles by focusing on moving more, eating smarter and enjoying a life free of tobacco products.
The GoJoCo Kids Club was a brainchild of this committee which began in May at the JCFM. Children can come to the GoJoCo Kids tent any Saturday morning at Ralph Stout Park and participate in making fun, healthy snacks, run an obstacle course, and receive free tokens to practice making healthy choices at the Farmers Market. The new program has been a great success with attendance each market day averaging 14 children. The GoJoCo Kids Club is being recognized at the East Regional Healthier Tennessee Conference to be held in September as one of the exceptional initiatives from all of the regional HTC Communities.
The evening ended with Calkins thanking Jones for a stellar job for the past 3 years as manager of the JCFM with a gift of appreciation. Jones will be leaving as Market Manager at the end of October. Next year’s Harvest Celebration Dinner is planned for the third Saturday in August. So, mark your calendars now!