Region's farmers markets beginning to open – Bristol Herald Courier (press release) (blog)

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ABINGDON, Va. — Spring is the perfect time to reap the benefits of healthy produce sold at farmers markets. Local markets, opening this month and in May, will offer nutrient-rich, fresh foods straight from local farms.

Although cool temperatures and wet conditions have prevailed during the past few weeks, many market managers indicate their vendors will begin the season with a variety of greens and other cold-weather crops.

Farmers markets are not just another place to buy food. An increasing number of shoppers see them as the hub of the community — a place to shop, eat and socialize.

According to Phil Blevins, Washington County agriculture extension agent, there are as many as 120 small and large farmers markets in Virginia.

“A farmers market is a good opportunity for farmers who want to sell retail and for consumers who want to buy food directly from the local producers,” Blevins said. The farmers market is also a good way to meet the farmers who grow your food.

For the past several years, Fred Duncan and his wife, Darlene Duncan, have sold their garden produce at the Glade Spring Farmers Market, supplying local customers with a variety of homegrown vegetables.

Darlene Duncan is known for her homemade sourdough and Amish cinnamon breads, which sell out at each Saturday market.

“I enjoy the market. It’s a good way to see your neighbors and sell some extra garden produce,” said Fred Duncan, who will have broccoli, early cabbage, peas and radishes for sale later in the spring.

Abingdon Farmers Market

The Abingdon market, on the corner of Remsburg Drive and Cummings Street, kicked off its regular season on April 7.

The market opens from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and 3-6 p.m. on Tuesdays through Thanksgiving.

According to Market Manager David McLeish, the market will feature 50 vendors on Saturdays and as many as 40 vendors on Tuesdays during peak season.

Vendors will offer a variety of local meats, eggs, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, wines, prepared foods, and arts and crafts.

“Several new events are planned for this season, including chef’s demonstrations, herb, berry and tomato festivals, and our popular Squashtober Festival,” McLeish said.

The annual Farm Fresh Kids program begins May 23 and continues through August.

Established in 2010, Farm Fresh Kids is an inventive program about healthy eating and active living.

Every Tuesday afternoon market in the summer, children are treated to a variety of educational programs presented by community partners. Children receive hands-on experiences in choosing fruits and vegetables, and tasting and preparing different foods.

Following an interactive lesson on nutrition and physical education each Tuesday, children are given a $2 Fresh Buck coupon to spend on healthy foods at the market.

State Street Farmers Market in Bristol

Located at the Downtown Center in Bristol, Tennessee, the State Street Farmers Market will operate from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays from May to October. The kickoff for the Saturday market is May 5.

A Wednesday market operates from 2-6 p.m. during July, August and September.

Mike Musick, recreation superintendent for the city of Bristol, Tennessee, said the market will feature as many as 35 vendors during peak season. In addition to local, homegrown produce, vendors will sell handmade items and baked goods.

Follow the farmers market on Facebook at State Street Farmers Market.

Glade Spring Farmers Market

Vendors at the Glade Spring Farmers Market will enjoy their first full season selling their wares in the town’s new farmers market pavilion called The Point.

The market will open for the season from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 19, and continue through Oct. 28.

According to Paul Case, market manager, 10 full season vendors will sell homegrown beef, pork, herbs, greens, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, radishes and broccoli when the market opens, followed by summer produce later in the season.

Case said he is planning a special event each month at the market, one of which is a performance of the Crooked Road Cloggers.

For more information, contact Case at chillys@comcast.net, or follow the market on Facebook at Glade Spring Farmers Market.

Damascus Farmers Market

The Damascus market will operate from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays beginning April 28 and continuing through Oct. 6. The market is at 200 East Laurel Ave., beside the Damascus United Methodist Church.

According to Sally Johnson, market manager, as many as 13 vendors will sell their locally grown produce during the season. Local crafts will include quilts, needlepoint, crochet, woodworking, and art work. Two local authors will sell their books this season.

A special children’s day event is planned for September, she said.

Follow the market on Facebook at Damascus Virginia Famers Market.

Marion Farmers Market

The Marion Farmers Market opens for its regular season from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 5, at the Farmers Market Pavilion at the corner of Cherry and Chestnut streets behind Macado’s restaurant.

“We have grown tremendously over the past few years,” said Olivia McDonald, executive director of Marion Downtown. “We are averaging 15 to 17 vendors throughout the season. Our market is an outdoor covered pavilion and we have the capability of hosting up to 22 vendors.

“We’re really excited for this season. We have returning and new vendors,” said McDonald.

Vendors will offer a host of items, including meats, canned goods, fresh produce, vegetables, flowers and crafts.“We’re expected to have a great turnout,” she said.

McDonald said there is a special event planned for each Saturday. On May 5, the market will kick off with a Cinco de Mayo event that features workshops, Hispanic food, live music, and kids’ activities.

The market also is starting a new program called Fresh Little Sprouts, which is geared to children 12 and younger. On the second Saturday of every month, children in the community can participate in educational programs in exchange for $5 tokens they can spend at the farmers market.

“It’s a great incentive for kids to learn about their food,” she said.

For National Dairy Month in June, the market will bring in live cows so children can see where milk comes from.

Follow the market on Facebook at Marion Farmers Market.