Changes at the Kingsport Farmers Market

Matthew Lane • Feb 11, 2018 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — You’ve enjoyed a farmers market in downtown Kingsport for decades, buying fresh produce and vegetables, canned goods and flowers from local growers whom you’ve come to know and trust.

Today, a number of changes are in the works. But chances are you’re probably not even going to know the difference. It’s going to be the same healthy farmers market you’ve always known it to be.

A call for vendors

The Kingsport Farmers Market is now accepting vendor applications for the 2018 season. You can apply in a couple of ways.

Online: You can visit the new Kingsport Farmers Market website at kingsportfarmersmarket.org. It has information and guidelines on becoming a vendor, facility rentals, programs offered at the market and ways to get involved.

In person: If you prefer a paper application, pick one up at the Kingsport Carousel or at City Hall. Vendors will be accepted on a rolling basis, but will be assigned first-come, first-served.

Training sessions will be set up prior to the market’s opening in order to familiarize vendors with the new software — Manage My Market — which will be used to register sellers. Sessions will take place every Wednesday at the Kingsport Carousel from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. until the market opens.

Under new management

For more than four decades, Kingsport has enjoyed a vibrant and successful farmers market, being named one of Tennessee’s best markets for a number of years. The city owns the indoor facility at the corner of Center and Clinchfield, and for years the Kingsport Farmers Market Association has essentially managed the operation of the market.

But today, the facility is so much more than just a farmers market. It’s being used for a variety of events and functions: parties, gatherings, receptions, concerts and more. Because of this, and the city’s desire to implement higher-tech tools in the market’s operation, Kingsport will now provide administrative support in the management of the facility.

The move was made in collaboration with the Kingsport Farmers Market Association.

“I’m perfectly good with this,” said Jim LaFollette, association president. “I’ll still manage the market just like I always have, but (Kingsport) is going to do some stuff we couldn’t do, and I think the association has gone as far as it could go and needed help to move forward.”

New to the market

In the coming months, city staff will begin rolling out several new programs, procedures and marketing efforts for the farmers market. The implementation of these new opportunities will help with the ease and effectiveness of the market for its customers and vendors.

The administrative team will work with vendors to implement the Manage My Market software. This program will provide easily accessible applications, online payments and booth information for potential vendors as well as up-to-date information for the public. Manage My Market will also enable market staff to offer customizable booth rentals in order to keep the facility full.

In addition to the software, the administrative team is also working with the USDA to offer SNAP benefits. Accepting SNAP has been a longstanding request for the market, and the city is eager to implement the program.

Finally, Kingsport is looking to make some improvements to the parking lot where the farmers market is held. Chris McCartt, assistant city manager for administration, said the city plans to remove the striping in the parking lot, seal it and re-stripe it with a better layout, adding a landscaped island and moveable container beds with trees.

“It'll help with traffic management and improve the overall aesthetics (of the market),” McCartt said.

Open for business

The indoor facility will open on April 14 and be open only on Saturdays during the month. The farmers market will be open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from May through October. In November, the market will again only be open on Saturdays.

The hours of operation will be from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information about the Kingsport Farmers Market, how to become a vendor or to sign up for the monthly newsletter, visit kingsportfarmersmarket.org.

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