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ETSU Farmers Market returns with more vendors, cooking demonstrations

staff report • Apr 2, 2013 at 10:06 AM

JOHNSON CITY — The Farmers Market at East Tennessee State University returns for its third season this week, with more vendors and a larger variety of produce and prepared foods.

Held in the parking lot between the D.P. Culp University Center and Roy S. Nicks Hall, the Farmers Market at ETSU is steadily building a following among vendors and consumers not only for the goods that are available but also for the lively atmosphere. The market will reopen Thursday, April 4, and run every Thursday through May 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We’ve gained a good reputation in the region among growers and consumers who want to come for something that’s unique,” said Rachel Ward, a doctoral student in the ETSU College of Public Health who is the market manager. “Vendors like the university atmosphere, and more people on campus are talking about it. I’ve had several people approach me to ask when we were returning, and we’ve had a lot of interest on our Facebook page.

“We’ve increased our number of vendors to 14, so there’ll be more variety and more choice.”

Products consumers can look for include fresh seasonal produce, artisan breads, donuts, baked goods, goat cheese, granolas, cut flowers and dried chiles. New additions include a maker of gourmet chocolates and a prepared-food vendor who sells locally made sausages with homemade mustard and sauerkraut. There will be a noticeable increase in meat availability, as four sellers will offer such items as pork, grass-fed beef, breakfast sausages, chicken and goat.

This spring, the market folk will not only be offering food but also ideas on how to use it as well. The ETSU market received grant funding from the Appalachian Farmers Market Association to hold weekly cooking demonstrations.

“These will be geared toward busy people with limited cooking equipment, such as college students,” Ward said. “Recipes will be very basic but tasty — things like four different types of salad dressing in a jar, and how to make a basic pasta dish with ingredients you can get at the market. We’ll film the cooking sessions each week and make the videos available on YouTube.”

A newly created advisory board that includes a mix of vendors, faculty and staff members will help guide the market, Ward said. She and other students who founded the market determined last year that ETSU is one of only three non-land-grant universities in the nation that has a farmers market. There are 582 such schools, so less than 1 percent has a market. Land-grant universities are institutions with historically strong agricultural ties and were typically founded by the states to offer practical education focused on agriculture, science and engineering.

Every week, the market will offer live music and special events. A Contra dance will kick off the spring entertainment from noon to 1 p.m., April 4.

The market is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FarmersMarketatETSU and maintains a blog at http://thefarmersmarketatetsu.wordpress.com/.

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