“Farm life is good. We are just trying to keep up,” said Haley Powell. These words by Powell from Whited Farms describe most of the farmers’ lives this year. All around the county, farmers are reporting exceptionally high numbers of customers buying local produce this year, and farmers are doing everything they can to keep up with the demand.
Is the demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Maybe, but you can rest assured the delectable tastes emerging from the fields play a large part in consumer choices.Customers are busily canning and freezing produce for later enjoyment. In fact, some are finding it a challenge to locate canning supplies.Farm life may be hard, but our local farmers are ready for its challenges as they bring customers the freshest and tastiest products around.
Be sure to stop by any of these wonderful places to grab up all of the fresh and local produce you desire:
• Blount County Farmer’s Market: You will likely find just about anything you want when you visit the market each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. (or until they sell out). In addition to the wide variety of tomatoes (including canning tomatoes), peppers, corn, squash, onions, peaches, and cantaloupes, purple hull peas are beginning to come in at the market. But, you must get there as soon as they open, as only early risers are getting them at this time. You can also find several canned or pickled products made from local produce. Many of the vendors accept the Farmer’s Market Nutritional Program certificates.
• Copeland Farms: Along with those “sweet as sugar” cantaloupes and watermelons, Copeland Farms has sweet corn, squash, cucumbers, and both hot and sweet peppers available at the produce stand.
• Snead Produce: After taking a week off for vacation, both locations are open for business. They currently have local tomatoes, yellow squash, peaches, Athena cantaloupes, and rattlesnake green beans. Purple hull peas will be available later this week.
• McCray’s Old Field Farm: While their produce has decreased as the summer has progressed, Suzy reports they still have butternut squash, Cherokee Purple tomatoes, Atkinson tomatoes, and Gardner’s Delight, which is a cherry tomato. You will also find a wide variety of common and unique jelly flavors such as apple, corn cob, blackberry, blueberry, elderberry, and watermelon made from produce grown right on their farm. They purchased some baby chicks a few months ago, and those happy chicks have begun laying eggs, which are also sold at the farm stand.
• Whited Farms: For those looking for Better Boy canning tomatoes, Whited Farms has plenty of them available at $10 per box. In addition, you will find locally grown squash, zucchini, cucumbers, Blue Lake and rattlesnake green beans, onions (purple, sweet, and white), new potatoes, peaches-and-cream corn, okra, Cresthaven peaches, and Athena cantaloupe for sale. Curbside pickup remains available.
• Allman Farm and Orchard: With Blount County squash; cucumbers; grape and Better Boy tomatoes; green beans; obsession corn; bell, Aruba, and jalapeño peppers; white peaches; and Aphrodite cantaloupe currently available, you will surely find something to your liking. They will have watermelons in the very near future, as well as canary melons later this week. Allman Farm and Orchard continues to accept the Farmer’s Market Nutritional Program certificates, have mixed baskets and boxes, and offers curbside pickup.
• Baswell Farms: This roadside stand currently offers squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeños, tomatoes (including heirloom tomatoes), and okra. They, too, have Cherokee Purple tomatoes ready for canning at $10 per box. These heirloom tomatoes have less acid than other varieties.
• Barb’s Berries: For your blueberry or blackberry needs, Barb’s Berries has what you are looking for. Only the blueberries are available for u-pick. We are still keeping an eye out for those muscadines that will be available very soon.
• Hazelrig Orchard: If you are looking for freestone Cresthaven peaches, nectarines, Athena cantaloupes, or Ginger Gold apples, then a trip to Hazelrig Orchard may be the place for you. They also have yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, sweet banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, and ripe and green tomatoes for sale.
• Witt Farms: Peaches, okra, squash, tomatoes, onions, a variety of peppers, cantaloupes, and watermelons remain available at their roadside stand. In addition, Witt Farms has peaches for sale at the Blount County Farmer’s Market.
Wherever you visit, please be mindful that most vendors are trying to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines and are asking customers not to touch the produce. They will gladly help you select the product you want.