The Farmers Market features unique locally grown produce –

By Angela Cutrer

The Elizabethton Farmer’s Market is once again available to local shoppers thanks to the caring nature of the people who first – and later – believed the event provided a valuable and needed arena for farmers and artisans. local.

But it was not easy to open the market — and then to reopen it.

“We opened in 2017 as ‘Downtown Elizabethton Farmers Market’ but closed in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said market manager Donica Krebs. “I managed the market for those three years. We had a board of directors under a local nonprofit, but it disbanded during our break.

Krebs said she refused to give up on the deal, so she headed to the local chamber to see if she could find the help she needed.

“As the owner of a small permaculture farm in Carter County, I have always had a passion for local agriculture and hadn’t given up on the dream of an Elizabethton market,” said- she declared. “I approached the Elizabethton Chamber of Commerce Foundation in April 2022 as part of a last ditch effort to reopen the market. They were extremely willing to be market sponsors financially sponsoring our event insurance and were very helpful in having their staff assist with website and media design, marketing [and so on].”

The chamber’s executive director, Joy McCray, said the chamber will always support customers by encouraging them to shop locally.

“We always support our local vendors and help the community learn about not only the farmers who grow awesome fruits and vegetables, but also [learning about the offers of] handmade items, baked goods and really cool things vendors make,” she said. “They’re here and it’s a great opportunity for our community to come together and learn about the farmers’ market, farm-to-table and agricultural products.”

The Chamber Foundation has partnered with Krebs and other volunteers to get the market moving again. “[The chamber] sponsors the market and we owe our existence to them,” Krebs said. “Elizabethton Parks and Recreation also makes it easy for us by providing the covered bridge park for our weekly use.”

Krebs received training from the TDA for market management. She keeps up to date with continuing education courses for farmer market leadership. “I have a committee of two qualified community members and a vendor liaison who helps with decision-making, application approvals, and resources,” she said.

“We have a few kind members of the community who also volunteer their time. We are all unpaid volunteers.

They relaunched the market as simply “Elizabethton Farmers’ Market”, omitting the “downtown” part of the name. “Although it is technically a completely different market since it is under a new sponsor and a new name, many suppliers and customers have remained loyal and returned after a two-year hiatus,” Krebs said. . “We also welcomed many new businesses and farms into the fold.”

Shoppers have plenty to choose from in the new market: fresh produce and fruit (picked that morning), USDA pasture-raised meats, free-range eggs, local honey, artisan breads, specialty baked goods, jams and jellies, pet treats, handmade soaps, crafts, herbal products, live plants and more. Many vendors offer unique items, such as rare and bizarre heirlooms like purple cauliflower, kohlrabi, and Native American varieties of tomatoes, corn, and beans. The market includes two loyal food trucks, Diggy Donuts and Fire Pizza, Krebs added. “You can always count on a delicious dinner and dessert after browsing.”

She said the market is one of only two farmers’ markets in all of northeast Tennessee that are all-producers. “It means that everything offered in our marketplace is produced in or near Carter County,” she said. “We do not allow the resale of products from more southern states.

“It is common practice for most farmers’ markets to allow vendors to buy produce from warmer climates and resell them in the market to maintain appearances of abundance during times when harvests are still early low. of the season. We are much less concerned with appearances than with quality.

“Every vegetable in the market was grown by our farmers. Each cut of meat was raised on local pastures. Every egg and every jar of honey was collected from area code 423.

“While this means we sometimes have less variety at certain times of the season, particularly early in the season as we wait for summer crops to mature, our customers can rest assured knowing that every dollar spent at the EFM stays in our community.”

The market is held in Covered Bridge Park in downtown Elizabethton, an iconic historic site in the community. Built in 1882, the bridge undoubtedly saw many horse-drawn wagons of fresh produce crossing the river to Elizabethton, brought by hardworking Carter County farmers, Krebs said. “We are honored to continue the tradition of local agricultural trade in our historic community,” she added.

The purpose of the market is to support local farms and businesses, supply the community with fresh, healthy food, and strengthen community bonds to ensure a local food economy. “We all support each other,” Krebs said. “We’re all used to being able to walk into a grocery store and have our pick of produce at the drop of a hat, but most of those dollars end up in California or some other country; we want to focus our efforts on supporting farmers you can talk to face to face every week.

Although the marketplace is no longer accepting applications from sellers, they are encouraged to apply to join a waiting list. However, Krebs said volunteers and shoppers are always welcome.

“Spreading the word is the best way to get involved and support us,” Krebs said. “We would also like to welcome a few more local musicians and have openings for concerts.”

The market is planning to have weekly events going forward. For starters, the market has a big shindig on July 12, when it hosts a Contra-Dance, which is similar to line dancing, called by famed Appalachian Folk School founder and record holder Warren Doyle. the most completed hikes on the Appalachian Trail (18 times!).

The market meets on Tuesdays from 4pm to 7pm every week from June to August in the covered bridge park, rain or shine. “We are farmers, we are not afraid of the rain! laughed Krebs.

James V. Payne