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Kingsport Farmers Market open for business

Matthew Lane • Apr 11, 2018 at 1:00 PM

KINGSPORT — In the mood to annoy your children this weekend? Then why not take a trip to the Kingsport Farmers Market and load up on some fresh vegetables.

And while you’re there, you can also check out an assortment of baked goods, arts and crafts, specialty coffees and market-branded T-shirts and hats.

A NEW SEASON

The Kingsport Farmers Markets opens for the 2018 season this Saturday at 6 a.m. You can find it near Food City in downtown Kingsport at the corner of Clinchfield and Center streets.

For the month of April, the market will only be open on Saturdays, but beginning in May it will also be open on Wednesdays as well through the month of October.

Market Manager Jim LaFollette, who was out in the fields planting onions on Tuesday, said he expects 45 to 50 vendors to be on hand this Saturday for the opening.

“(The vendors) are ready, just like me. We’ll have lettuce, radishes, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets and turnips,” LaFollette said. “We’re going to have some new stuff, different kinds of baked goods, new crafts, one vendor selling specialty coffee. Just a tremendous amount of things.”

Plenty of products will be locally grown, but since it’s early in the season the market does allow vendors to bring in produce grown within 100 miles of Kingsport. People are asked to grow at least 75 percent of what they sell at the market, LaFollette said.

“We’re expecting a good crowd on Saturday, so you need to come early,” he said, noting that vendors will be gone by 2 p.m.

UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT

For more than 40 years, Kingsport has enjoyed a vibrant and successful farmers market, being named one of Tennessee’s best markets for a number of years. Kingsport owns the indoor facility, 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. So because of this and the city's desire to implement higher-tech tools in the operation of the market, Kingsport will now provide administrative support in the management of the facility.

NEW TO THE MARKET

Kingsport is rolling out several new programs, procedures and marketing efforts this year, to help the customers and the vendors at the farmers market.

One is the Manage My Market software, which will provide easily accessible applications, online payments and booth information for potential vendors as well as up-to-date information for the public. The Manage My Market software will also enable market staff to offer customizable booth rentals in order to keep the market full.

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

LaFollette said the market has not yet qualified for SNAP, but they hope to have it up and running as soon as possible.

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

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