There are currently less than one million people in the U.S. claiming farming as their primary occupation, and the family farm is slowly fading away. Despite this statistic, self-sufficient farms are often the foundation for rural counties, and Blount County is no exception.
With local produce usually available within 24 hours of harvesting, the “buy fresh, buy local” motto used by the state-sanctioned Blount County Farmer’s Market supports this area’s thriving agricultural community.
As of June 2, the farmer’s market is in full swing, and vendors are offering home-grown produce that tastes better than produce likely shipped across several states, and even countries, before arriving at the local supermarket. This same produce may be seven to 14 days old by the time it is available for purchase.
In addition to fresher and tastier fruits and vegetables for the consumer, the local economy is enhanced by the sales. Buying local benefits the community, as farmers purchase local goods for maintaining the farm, in addition to providing jobs.
Supporting local farmers also ensures the farms will continue to future generations.
The farmer’s market, located on the south side of the Blount County-Oneonta Agri-Business Center, is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The closing day will be determined at a later date in October.
The market offers selling privileges to all producers and growers or their agents who have a grower’s permit; however, all vendors must have a permit. Permits can be obtained free of charge at the Blount County Extension Office.
Many vendors have also been certified to accept food vouchers issued through the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program for low income families.
So, why buy local?
It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Farmers continue to thrive, the community profits, and the consumer gets fresh produce. Get out and support your local farmer’s market, all while reaping great benefits.
For more information, contact the Agri-Business Center at 274-8839.