By Bethany Anderson
The Johnson County Farmers Market had come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2009. Back then, the market was held at the Quonset hut near Rainbow Rd and Hwy 167.
Thanks to the generosity of local business owner Danny Herman, it called this location home for the first three years. After that, the market was moved to its next location at the Johnson County Courthouse parking lot. After spending six years at that location, the market was moved yet again, this time to the parking lot near the playground at Ralph Stout Park.
In November of 2017, the JCFM took on the challenge of hosting a “Winter Market,” which has been held from November through April in the lower level of the Johnson County Welcome Center, with reopening it’s “Summer Market” season back at the Ralph Stout Park location for the months of May through October.
The “Winter Market” may have begun as somewhat of an experiment, but has since proved itself to be a worthwhile endeavor.
The goal of the JCFM has always been to provide the availability of locally grown fresh produce, meats, and dairy products for the residents of our region as well as provide a place for local farmers and ranchers to sell their products. The market is also available to provide shoppers the ability to use the EBT program to make their purchases, thereby allowing for more of our local community to take part in the benefits that the market has to offer.
The JCFM is a nonprofit that relies on community donations and grants to operate. According to the JCFM’s mission statement, “The purpose of the JCFM is to strengthen a sustainable local agricultural and food economy. We accomplish this by providing education, engaging in community and economic development promoting the availability and benefits of local agriculture and serving and preparing local foods.”
With weekly live music, amazing local produce, meats, and dairy products, freshly prepared foods, handmade crafts, and a welcoming community atmosphere, the market is a lively place to spend a Saturday morning. The edition of the GoJoCo kids’ tent thanks in large part to one of the many grants the market relies on, has made the market, even more, family friendly during the summer months as well.
JCFM is also looking to the future. Always in search of a “more permanent home,” they are hopeful that a suitable location has been found in the coming Agricultural Center, to be located next to the Chamber of Commerce Park on Hwy 67.
While this building is set to be in the Doe Valley area, a bit further out of the city limits of Mountain City, it is thought to be an ideal location for many reasons. With a permanent place, the market would no longer have to move back and forth between two different locations from Summer to Winter as they currently do.
The Johnson County Farmers Market is held year-round on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – Noon.
For more information on the JCFM, please visit their website at johnsoncountyfm.org or find them on Facebook and Instagram. The market manager can also be reached via phone at (423)291-9145 with any questions or vendor registration inquiries.