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Farmers Market tradition continues in trying times

Glenn Yoder of Living Greens Hydroponics helps customers A.J. Brooks, Rachel Gauger and pooch Kisses with their purchase.- photo by Jennifer Woods

By: Jennifer Woods - reporter for the Southern Standard newspaper in McMinnville, TN

It’s nice to know you can count on something “normal” considering the recent uncertainty due to COVID-19. The Farmers Market in McMinnville is a yearly tradition that offers a bounty of locally grown, harvested, cultivated, baked, cooked and sewn items. The market kick started back in April. The market is open Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. May through November and Saturdays 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. April through November. The Saturday of May 9th, the market was buzzing with activity when it opened at 7 a.m. Vendors were set up with their wares and folks were eager to purchase them. Many reasons were at play for the busy activity at the pavilion, but the sunny weather, more vegetables and flowers to choose from, and that Mother’s Day was the next day were probably the main ones.

Seth Greene shows customer Janie Griffin some of the first strawberries of the season along with an assortment of fresh local vegetables.

The market was overflowing with choices. Fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, beets and more were available at different stations. Glenn Yoder had several vegetables from his family operated and owned business Living Green Hydroponics located on Viola Road. Yoder was eager to say he grows everything he sells. Customer Rachel Gauger declared Yoder’s mini cucumbers the best and one of the reasons she was there. Laura Smartt had several mason jars full of beautiful cut flowers. She said they were all grown at her home here in town. Smartt said she is planning on opening a small cut flower farm.

Laura, John and 7-year-old Holly Rowan Smartt offer a variety of beautiful cut flowers in mason jars.

Baked banana and zucchini bread, as well as fruit filled fried pies and other tasty desserts, were offered at Dulce and Lydia Martin’s space.

Handmade fried fruit pies, breads and other dessert goodies are available at the Farmers Market.

A sign of the times is that protective masks were also available from two vendors. The choices of fabric styles were lovely to behold. Vendor Melissa Jenkins said she made 75 masks last week and estimates she has made over 300 in all. Her masks include a filter pocket with elastic or tie options.

Melissa Jenkins assists Judy Cunningham in picking out the perfect mask. Cunningham is going back to work at Kasai in Manchester this week and wanted to add to her protective gear.

Becoming a Farmers Market vendor is easy. Each vendor is required to pay a membership fee of $15 each year, fill out an application, follow market rules and Tennessee state guidelines. Daily vendor spots are $10 per spot per set up. All permanent spots are taken at this time, but you can be added to a waiting list if you would like to obtain a permanent spot when one becomes available. Chrissy Allen was appointed Farmers Market manager this past February. “I love the interaction with the community. We have a great community here in McMinnville and Warren County. They show great support of our Farmers Market,” said Allen. “I love that it’s outside but still covered on rainy days. And I love just being able to help in any way I can.” Allen continued, “Some days if the market is slower, vendors may not be there until 1 p.m. Other days when it’s busy, if they sell out they leave. Best bet is to come early to get products you are looking for. We hope everyone will come out to see what our vendors have to offer and help support local farmers and the local Farmers Market.” If you have any questions, contact Allen at (931) 259-0727.

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