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The Local Guide To Food And Farms In Middle Tennessee Since 2007
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Lisa is the owner/founder of Local Table and an obsessive/passionate gardener and lover of the outdoors. She and her husband Dale live in beautiful Smith County and are in the livelong process of restoring an 1870s farmhouse and bringing the farmstead back to life. They share their place with numerous cats, dogs, chickens, guineas and a retired old mare.

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F armers' Markets

To Market, To Market, A Local Food Revival
By Lisa Shively

When you buy food locally, you're not only doing something good for you and your family, but you'll also be helping out your local farmer and helping to protect our rural working landscape.

Farmers markets are a gathering space for farmers and their food, family, friends and neighbors. Photo Farmers' Market Guide

Every week at the farmers market is an adventure. Even though you're not growing the food yourself, you'll begin to discover your own connection to the growing seasons.

(Click here to find the right market for you!)

In existence since Roman Times, farmers markets provide the place for the community to buy fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables directly from the farmer. Today you can find these markets in town squares, parking lots, city parks, churchyards and/or in permanent market facilities throughout Middle Tennessee.

Tallahassee May, a member of the Franklin Farmers Market Board and a farmer with the Fresh Harvest Co-Op, comments that ?the Franklin Farmers Market started with 8 vendors six years ago and now has over 45. People trust the market because of its producers-only rule, and know that everything they buy is fresh and grown or produced within a 150 mile radius from Franklin.

Some markets, such as Franklin's, are held only on Saturdays, while others like the one in Cookeville, are open six days a week. Markets in rural counties may be smaller than some of their big county cousins but one thing they all have in common - whether the farms are organic or conventionally grown - buying at a farmer's market insures you will have fresher, better tasting and healthier foods.

"Our market's customers are from our rural county, " says Cannon County Farmers Market Director Catherine Simmons, "and a lot of them have their own backyard gardens. They come to the market looking for variety and something unusual. They like to find things they don't see at the grocery store." When you buy food locally, you're not only doing some- thing good for you and your family - but you'll also be helping out your local farmer and helping to protect our rural working landscape. You become part of your local community.

In Middle Tennessee, we can be assured of three full growing seasons with such crops such as fruits, tomatoes, corn, squashes, cucumbers, melons, okra, eggplant, peppers, lettuces and greens, herbs, milk and cheese, pastured meats and poultry, pumpkins, eggs, honey, flowers and nursery stock.

Every week at the farmers market is an adventure. Even though you're not growing the food yourself, you'll begin to discover your own connection to the growing seasons.

Best of all you'll be getting extra fresh produce - possibly even picked that morning!

Enjoying Your Local Farmers Market

Dress comfortably; come prepared. Bring your own shopping bags, canvas bags or baskets. Bring only as much cash as you want to spend - it's a good budgeting technique.

Pack a cooler in your car in case you want to bring home perishables like milk, meat or cheese.

Tour the market before buying. You'll find out what's available and what prices and produce looks good to you. If you come early you'll get the best selections and if you come later in the day, you may find some bargains.

When you're visiting a market for the first time, always remember to check with the farmer to make sure the food has been grown locally. Some markets allow re-sellers and you'll be buying the same food as you buy at the supermarket. It may have been grown in Mexico or California - so it's important to check when you're unfamiliar with a market.

Ask questions about the produce or fruit available. Lots of farmers will bring recipes for the produce in season, if not, ask the farmer how they like to fix a particular item. Often you can find items at a farmers market that you won't find in the supermarket. Many farmers these days are growing old fashioned or heritage varieties - purple beans, blue corn or black tomatoes - let it be an adventure!
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