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Kingsport Farmers Market kicks off season Saturday

Matthew Lane • Apr 11, 2019 at 7:30 AM

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Farmers Market opens for the 2019 season Saturday, with more than 50 vendors expected to be on hand offering a healthy assortment of tomatoes, lettuce, onions, breads and honey.

More specifically, the market will have vendors located both inside the facility (17) and outside (44), filing the parking lot with tables full of a variety of early-season vegetables, other foods and plenty of handmade crafts.

“When we open in April, we’ll have more crafters than farmers because a lot of people don’t have their crops in yet,” said Kristie Leonard, who manages the day to day operations of the market. “And we had so much rain in the winter and spring, it’s delayed some of the crops coming in.”

The Kingsport Farmers Market is located downtown near Food City at the corner of Clinchfield and Center. Each spring, between 40 to 50 vendors are typically on hand for the season opening.

For the month of April, the market will be open only on Saturdays, but beginning on May 1, the market will also be open on Wednesdays through the fall.

NEW TO THE MARKET

This year, a number of new things are happening at the site:

— The market will be participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which offers nutrition assistance to millions of low-income individuals and families across the country. You’ll be able to use your SNAP EBT card to purchase tokens at the market and use them with participating vendors.

— The Kingsport Carousel will be open during market days in June and July from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

— For the first time, Kingsport plans to offer an evening market on the second Thursday of each month from June through September. The hours will be from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

A NUMBER OF CHANGES

During the past year, Kingsport made several changes to the outdoor area of the market, giving it a fresh look while providing more spaces for vendors and better safety for pedestrians.

Kingsport also began offering branded merchandise for sale (T-shirts, caps, coffee cups and tote bags), along with participating in a number of special programs such as Agriculture Literacy Week, Saturdays with the Chef, a gardening series, musical performances, a fall festival and Tomato Fest.

Tennessee Magazine once again named the Kingsport Farmers Market the Best Farmers Market in East Tennessee.

BY THE NUMBERS

This year marks the second year the Farmers Market has been overseen by the city. In 2018, the city received 173 applications from vendors to set up and sell at the market, with 116 approved, 37 placed on a wait list and 18 withdrawing the application.

A breakdown of the applications shows that 67 were from home-grown vendors, 12 were from commercial growers and 32 were offering prepared food. Kingsport’s goal is to have 85 percent of the vendors offering food and 15 percent being craft vendors.

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