Every Saturday morning from 7:00 to 11:00 we coordinate a Farmers Market. Each week we reserve our spot on the side of the US-119, set up our canopies, display our locally grown produce, and make the booths look as appealing as possible. Our first market was July 9th, and the first three markets have left us encouraged.
We originally proposed to locate the Farmers Market in Bledsoe, but after meetings with interested vendors the market has been moved to the 15 mile marker on US-119, on the south side of Pine Mountain, just outside the city limits of Harlan. This location is used on Saturday mornings by people selling yard sale type materials. Vendors interested in selling at the Farmers Market believe that they will get more business by setting up in a space that people are already used to stopping at on weekend mornings. This location also makes selling at (and buying from) the market more accessible to people living on the south side of Pine Mountain, but it is not too far away from the north side as it sits close to the junction of the main mountain crossing. The first week our booth had zucchini, jalapenos, cucumbers, eggs, raspberries, beans, squash, and tomato plants, but this tends to vary from week to week.
Grow Appalachia participants sell any extra produce their family is not going to eat. On Fridays participants drop off whatever produce they wish to sell the next day. Grow Appalachia staff or a dedicated volunteer store the food properly, clean it, count it, and transport the food to the market.
Although nothing comparable existed at the location we chose, the Farmer’s Market has been very well received and we completely sold out on several occasions. An effective strategy used the first week was to offer free samples. After tasting our delicious raspberries many shoppers felt obliged to purchase something. One of the Grow Appalachia families came to the first farmer’s market and brought their daughter Alaina. She is 8 years old and she has wonderful selling tactics. She attracted customers via songs, dances, and free raspberries. Though we have not yet had leftover produce after a market day, we will donate any extra food to the Harlan branch of SWAP (Sharing With Appalachian People) in the future.
As the summer goes on we anticipate the growth of the Farmer’s Market. Although we got a late start on this year’s growing season, and do not have too much produce yet, there will be more vendors as the summer progresses. With the increase in vendors and produce, we believe that the Farmer’s Market will continue to expand.
The Harlan Daily Enterprise wrote an article about the Farmers Market! Unfortunately, the article is not posted on the web, but the paper has offered to post it for us. Check back later and we will edit this post to include a link.