By Jana Jones
Farmers Market Manager
The Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) joins markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week from August 5-11. On Saturday, August 11 the JCFM will celebrate locally by having our annual Tomato Tasting Contest. This is a favorite every year as customers will be able to sample over 15 varieties of tomatoes including heirlooms not found in supermarkets such as Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, and Marvel Stripe. Sarah Ransom, Consumer Science Extension Agent of Johnson County, will be at the market to help voters of all ages decide the winners.
As demand for local food continues to grow, so too have the opportunities for America’s farmers to market fresh food directly to the consumer. According to statistics recently released by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), farmers markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on farm-direct products . This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches.
2018 marks the 10th year the Johnson County Farmers Market has been serving the area. There are18 farmers, ranchers and growers throughout the season selling a wide variety of products including pasture raised chicken eggs, grass-fed beef, pasture raised pork, organic vegetables, herbs, berries, apples, grapes, herbal infused vinegars, plants, apple cider vinegar, jams, jellies, pickles and other canned and dried foods. The JCFM also features many local artisans and bakers that are favorites to our customers. When consumers spend their dollars buying from local producers and crafters, they are giving a valuable and much needed economic boost for the region.
“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming a healthy, prosperous food systems,” 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.”
The Johnson County Farmers Market is located at Ralph Stout Park every Saturday from 9 until noon. There is also now have a Tuesday Farmers Market open from 3:30 until 6:30 for the convenience of those getting off of work. Tickets for the Farm-to-Table Harvest Celebration Dinner August 18th are available at the Johnson County Welcome Center and at the Manager’s Tent during the Saturday Farmers Market. Tickets always sell out, so get your tickets early! Follow the JCFM on Facebook to see weekly updates.