The Bradley County Farmers Market Committee has decided when locals will be able to begin shopping for fresh fruits, veggies and other wares at Farmers Market North this year.
Beginning Thursday, April 17, the farmers market located on Urbane Road will be open for the season. The fresh produce season at that particular market will end on Saturday, Nov. 29, according to the scheduled approved at the committee’s Tuesday afternoon meeting.
Farmers Market North is one of three seasonal markets open during the summertime. A similar farmers market on Peerless Road is operated by the Bradley County University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension office, while the once-weekly First Street Square market which opens in its namesake location each summer is run by MainStreet Cleveland.
Chairman Robert Rominger said a new focus of the committee this coming year will be trying to draw more customers to the market through advertising and the like. He said Lori Moultrie, the County Commission’s legislative administrative assistant, applied for a grant to help with marketing, and the committee was awarded $1,000 to be used for the purpose.
Given the fact the committee did not have to allocate as much of its budget to advertising as it might have without the grant, Rominger asked how financially feasible it would be to have sewer lines run to the farmers market property to possibly add a permanent restroom. Moultrie said she still had to research the different options, but such a project has the potential to cost thousands of dollars.
Moultrie also asked committee members if there need to be any changes in requirements for vendors before the farmers market season began. After some reported problems with a vendor selling moldy bread last year, committee members discussed the need to make sure vendors selling home-baked goods are only allowed to sell such items if they work from kitchens certified as meeting food safety standards.
While items besides fruits and vegetables may be sold at the market, committee members said they also want to stress any food or craft items sold must be homegrown or homemade — whether they be tomatoes or quilts.