The Winter Farmers’ Market will open in Oak Ridge on Saturday, and it will be open through March.
With more than 30 vendors each week, the Winter Farmers’ Market is the largest one in Anderson County, a press release said.
This weekend’s opening is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, December 7, in the gym at St. Mary’s School in Oak Ridge.
This year, the Winter Farmers’ Market will extend an extra four weeks, through March 28, 2020. It is closed only on the Saturday after Christmas, December 28, the press release said.
“Our farmers grow a wide array of crops all winter long,” said Rebecca Williams, director of Grow Oak Ridge, the nonprofit organization that produces the market.
“Several farmers asked if we would continue the market through March. They are working hard to farm all year, and they will bring to Oak Ridge locally grown produce, pasture-raised beef, pork, chicken and tilapia, honey, free-range eggs, fresh flowers, herbal teas, live plants and more,” Williams said in the press release.
“We also have four bakers with wonderful breads and pastries, and many artisan crafters who make unique handmade gifts like home décor, natural bath and body products, jewelry, pottery, wood crafts, woven textiles, and original artwork as well. All of our vendors live within 150 miles of the market,” Williams said.
The market has a coffee vendor and food truck each week, as well as an indoor eating area. It also offers a free weekly children’s program called the Power of Produce (POP) Club.
“Kids 12 and under who taste two bites of a vegetable get $2 to spend on fruits and vegetables in the market, along with nutrition games and education,” Williams said. “This year, the program is directed by an Oak Ridge High School senior, Claire Gibson, who is working on her Girl Scout Gold Award with this project.”
The Winter Farmers’ Market is free to enter. Vendors take cash, and sometimes debit and credit cards. The Welcome Desk also sells $5 tokens that spend in the market like cash, which customers can purchase with a credit or debit card.
In addition, the Winter Farmers’ Market is the only one in Anderson County that accepts SNAP benefits (food stamps), and it doubles them up to $20 per day for produce in a program called Double Up Food Bucks, the press release said.
“About 20 percent of Oak Ridge residents receive SNAP benefits,” Williams said. “SNAP not only means higher sales for our farmers, but also more fresh food for families in need, better health for Anderson County, and a farmers’ market that truly welcomes everyone in Oak Ridge.”
Returning vendors include VG’s Bakery, Cooks on the Curb, Zavels Family Farm, Spring Oak Farm, Wilson Family Farm, Gooseberry Knoll Farm, Eco-Rich Farms, Friendly Farm, Crout Farm, Alpaca Junction and many more. Several new vendors have joined the market for the upcoming season: Crazy Cubans Food Truck, Half Ridge Farm, Down the Rabbit Hole pottery, Handmade Toffee & Treats and Ocoee Creamery, to name a few. There are 45 vendors on roll, with an average of 30 each week, the press release said.
Free special events are offered throughout the season in the room next to the market. This month, the Second Annual Sports Cards and Collectibles Show is on December 7, and A Capital Christmas is December 14, featuring Christmas cookies and activities by St. Mary’s School students. More workshops and classes will be coming in January, the press release said.
While the market is not produced by the parish, St. Mary’s is its host, Williams said. “We appreciate the church’s dedication to hunger relief in Anderson County, and we donate a portion of all weekly fees to their food bank. They provide this beautiful space, and we could not have this market without their support.”
The Winter Farmers’ Market is also supported by the Anderson County Health Department, Slow Food Tennessee Valley, Oak Ridge Pediatrics, University of Tennessee Extension Service, The Ferrell Shop, and many other individual donations. Volunteers help throughout the market, providing customer service, live music, and market workshops.
“Grow Oak Ridge is proud to produce this vibrant, thriving farmers’ market that is truly an outgrowth of community support and talent,” Williams said. “We are a 501(c)(3) organization, and any donations are tax-deductible as the law allows. We thank the community so much for their support these last four years, and look forward to many more.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.GrowOakRidge.org.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
You can contact John Huotari, owner and publisher of Oak Ridge Today, at (865) 951-9692 or [email protected]
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