CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Farmers Market North, Bradley County's newest produce market, launched its second year of operations Saturday and will shortly benefit from improvements.
The Bradley County Commission recently approved a $6,750 budget amendment for restrooms at the market pavilion, which is near the recreational complex on Urbane Road.
"The project is expected to start in a few weeks," said Commission Chairman Louie Alford, who championed the market's creation.
The project means vendors and customers will not have to use ballpark restrooms, which are on a hill overlooking the pavilion.
Funding includes a $4,750 grant from the county's Healthy Communities Initiative, $1,500 from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and $500 from private contributions.
Officials said they were pleased with the market's reception in its inaugural year.
Fifteen vendors already have committed to the market for a second year, said Commissioner Robert Rominger, who chairs the Farmers Market North managing committee.
"Saturdays are great days for the market," said Rominger. "The ballpark events provide plenty of customer traffic."
The daily visitor count averaged 200 people a day, according to market officials.
They attributed the market's success to its hours of operation, which are Monday through Saturday, from sunup to sundown. Not only do the hours make it convenient for customers, said officials, vendors can bring produce to the pavilion when it is freshest.
Returning vendor Bobby Lyle said he sold produce up until the end of last year's season.
"People kept coming, so I kept staying," said Lyle.
Improvements also are in the works for the Bradley County Cannery.
The cannery shares grounds with Cleveland's oldest and longest-running farmers market, on Peerless Road. It's managed by the local UT Agricultural Extension Office.
The 36-year old cannery will be 50 percent larger and easier to use by the time it opens in late spring, extension officials said.
The expansion will give cannery users more space to prepare their vegetables, said Kim Frady, director of Bradley County's agricultural extension office. Separating the preparation area from the canning room also will make it cooler in the prep area and improve traffic flow, he said.
The $53,000 cannery improvement was funded by a surplus within the UT Extension Office budget, the result of an unfilled salaried position, said Frady.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at email@example.com.