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Farmers Markets Popular Even in Rural Areas

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 | 06:09am

NASHVILLE – Farmers markets: they’re not just for cities, anymore.

Tennessee’s farmers markets are popping up everywhere—even in the heart of Tennessee farm lands. You’d think that in areas where many in the community still farm and grow gardens, the farmers market concept wouldn’t get much traction, but in fact, it’s in small towns and rural communities that most new farmers markets are showing up.

There was a time not so long ago that farmers markets were touted mostly as a way to get fresh, local produce into areas where produce wasn’t grown. Farmers trucked the literal fruits of their labors into more densely populated areas to give town dwellers a chance to meet the growers and know as much as possible about where their food was grown. Those who didn’t have ideal options for buying fresh foods within their neighborhoods could get to the farmers market and take home premium produce for the week.

Fact is, it’s at least as hard for the grocery stores in smaller towns to get access to fresh, local produce. Many smaller chain stores are locked into contracts with food distributors bringing in produce from far-off locations. Local, independently owned stores sometimes can’t purchase enough produce at one time to get a competitive price for their customers.  Additionally, savvy shoppers are realizing that it’s just plain hard to grow their own produce in a cost effective way: it’s often an economically smarter choice to let a real farmer grow it for them. 

Rural farmers markets also provide opportunities for communities to meet together in a casual way and enjoy each other at various activities and special events hosted by the market, much as they did when telephones, newspapers and televisions were not available to keep neighbors in touch with community news and with each other. 

Pick Tennessee Products, the state campaign to help people find local food and other farm direct products, plans to host several events at farmers markets in rural communities across Tennessee this summer. Visitors who come out to a Pick Tennessee Products Farmers market day can also take home free recipe cards and have the chance to win a basket of artisan and other popular foods from Tennessee.  

The Pick Tennessee Products website is a free service to Tennessee farmers and food manufacturers, promoting about 2,000 individual farmers and farm-direct businesses who list close to 9,500 farm products. Find local farmers markets, you-pick farms, seasonal recipes and farm direct products of all kinds at www.picktnproducts.org. , and follow Pick Tennessee Products on Facebook and Twitter.

2013 Pick Tennessee Products Farmers Market Tour Schedule

June 15th:  Dickson County Farmers Market
Vickie Witcher, UT Extension Agent
284 Cowan Dr., Corner of Beasley and Cowan
Dickson, TN  37055-2020  
Phone: (615) 446-2788             
E-mail: vwitcher@utk.edu
Web: http://www.dicksonfarmersmarket.com

June 21st: Selmer Farmers Market
Sybil Dancer, Director
100 Front Street
Selmer, TN (McNairy County)
Phone: (731) 645-3866 (731) 610-3444
E-mail: selmercommunity@selmercommunitycenter.com
Web: http://www.selmerpark.com

June 29th: Southern Middle Tennessee Farmers Market of Franklin County
John Ferrell, U.T. Extension Agent & Farmers Market Manager
Hwy 41-A (Dinah Shore Blvd.)
Winchester, TN  37398  
Phone: (931) 967-2741             

July 27th: Union County Farmers Market (Corn Festival)
Shannon Perrin, U.T. Extension Agent
3925 Maynardville HWY
Maynardville, TN  37807  
Phone: (865) 992-8038             
Fax:      (865) 992-1112
E-mail: sperrin@utk.edu

July 31th: Ripley Downtown Farmers Market
Frankie McCord, Executive Director
134 N. Jefferson St., Suite 3
Ripley, TN  38063  
Phone: (731) 635-0008 (731) 413-1089
E-mail: developripley@yahoo.com
Web: http://www.ripleytenn.com

August 3rd: Newport Farmers Market of Cocke County
Diana Steinfeld Hicks, Farmers Mkt. Manager
424 Heritage Blvd.
Newport, TN  37821 (Cocke County)
Phone: (423) 487-2056 or UT Extension Agent: (423) 623-7531
E-mail: hicksnursery@gmail.com
Web: http://newporttnfarmersmarket.com