Nothing tastes better than a fresh salad made with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and onion straight from the garden. But how can you get that farm fresh taste when you live in the city and don’t have the time, space or energy to grow your own food? Something that my family has found that we love is going to the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. Not only do we get awesome, fresh produce, there is a huge variety of vendors down on Market Square. There are food vendors, bakeries, coffee shops, flower stands, handmade jewelry, pottery, reusable bags, all natural beauty products, ice cream, herbs, meat, basically anything that you would normally buy at the grocery store (and then some) you can get at the farmer’s market. Part of why we love to go is the atmosphere. Jeremiah loves seeing all the different people, taste testing different foods, and listening to the street performers. His favorite last week was an older gentleman playing the saxophone. Not only that, but he loves to get wet in the fountains. I feel like when we are at the farmer’s market we are a part of something greater. We’re no longer just another transaction number. We aren’t just another face in that kid’s check-out line. We are helping out our neighbors. We are helping them to keep their dreams alive. We are pairing a face with our goods, and that for us is important to teach our kids. We want them to understand and respect the fact that someone works really hard to grow our food and make the things we use and that it doesn’t just magically appear in the stores for us to buy.
I had the pleasure of interviewing a vendor from the farmer’s market. Crystal is an herbalist and has been growing herbs on her family’s farm for over 20 years. When Turtle Mountain Herbs first started, the land that they acquired was a wreck. Car batteries, huge piles of trash, old engines, just a dump. Since then they have put in many, many hours of hard work and this year their back breaking labor has paid off. They have been named a “Botanical Sanctuary”. What an honor! When I asked how selling at the market has helped their business she exclaimed that just meeting people face to face has helped tremendously! Not only that, Nourish Knoxville has given them the chance to be featured on a local news station and listed in the local food guide. Crystal specializes in making custom products to help people. Whether you have an achy back, bug bites, horrible allergies, or just a case of the ickies, Crystal can make something to help you. She makes elderberry syrup, teas and tinctures, herbal baths, and healing salves. Everything she uses in them she has grown on the farm. I asked her what she would say to someone who has never been to the market and her response sounded like something I would say. She said, “It is the grand experiment in the community that everyone should experience at least once. Where else can you buy everything you need, visit with friends, eat awesome food, and be entertained?!”
Turtle Mountain Herbs is just one of the many vendors you will see at the market. It truly is an experience that you will never forget. The sights, smells, sounds, and people are enough to keep you coming back for more. But throw in home grown food, the sense of community, friendly vendors, and the gratitude you feel after helping out your neighbors, you will never look at grocery shopping the same again.