published Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Produce scheduled at this season's Chattanooga Market

Chattanooga Market Schedule
Chattanooga Market Schedule

Andy Lewis can't wait for Chattanooga Market to open.

It's where he and his wife and business partner, Hannah Wright, will be peddling their new product -- Off Grid Juice.

Literally. Although the word in this case is spelled "pedaling."

"We juice our vegetables and fruits on the spot using a pedal-powered masticating juicer," says Lewis. "Masticating juicers are great because they operate at a slower speed that doesn't create a lot of heat or oxidize the juice. That means a more nutritious and tasty beverage."

It will be their first time at Chattanooga Market, which opens April 27. Lewis hopes their products -- which include herbal teas and snacks -- will be a hit, a prediction he's basing on recent sales in various outside locations in and around downtown Chattanooga.

"We were surprised at the response we received from people whom we didn't consider our target audience -- runners, etc.," he says. "Instead, we got a lot of people who just stopped because they were interested in our product and they liked it. We sold to local people and tourists."

As usual, the market will be a blend of new vendors "as well as seasoned ones who have been there for years," says Melissa Siragusa, director of marketing and public relations.

Because it's still early in the season for vegetables, Siragusa says they hope to have, at least, a small selection of strawberries on opening day. "We'll have more than plenty to choose from within a few weeks of opening."

Vegetables and fruits that should be available for purchase at the market in late April and May include asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, collard greens, herbs, kale, lettuce, onions, raspberries, rhubarb, snow peas, spinach, sugar peas, turnips and strawberries.

And while there might not be a ton of veggies on display in the first few weeks, there will be lots of fresh breads, meats and cheese, plus the usual assortment of other food and beverages, arts and crafts and entertainment, she says.

Among the other tried-and-true products at the market, goat cheese is particularly popular, Siragusa says.

"We have a few goat cheese vendors but are still looking for more access to cheese," she says.

Gayle and Jim Tanner, who own Bonnie Blue Farms, have raised goats and made cheese for more than 40 years. The Tanners have been coming to the market for the last seven years and will be at the market every Sunday.

  • photo
    Sugar peas should be available at the Chattanooga Market in late April and May.
    Photo by Laura McNutt /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

"All our cheese is farmstead -- made from only the milk produced here on the dairy," Gayle says. "No hormones or antibiotics, made in small batches by hand."

Making the cheese begins with the selection of the goats themselves -- they have around 90 -- then continues through raising the kids, the food and water given to them on the farm, even to the milking process, she says. The cheeses are even aged in a cave on the farm.

"The cave creates the perfect environment for aging cheese, maintaining a temperature of 50 to 55 degrees and 85 to 95 percent relative humidity, similar to the famous Roquefort caves in France," Gayle Tanner says.

Paul Spell, owner of Humble Heart Farms, which also produces goat cheese, credits the Chattanooga Market to introducing different cheeses to the people. He says around 50 percent of his customers had never tasted goat cheese before sampling his products at the market.

"The Chattanooga people appreciate what is natural and understand what fresh and local really means," says Spell, who is starting his fourth year at the market, a year when the farm is introducing all-natural goat milk ice cream.

"People have a lactose- or a cow-milk problem can enjoy the our ice cream without suffering from an unappealing taste," he says.

And what's better with fresh cheese than freshly baked bread?

Annie's Baking, owned by Annie and Daniel Lemoine, moved to America from France about 20 years ago. In November, they decided to bring their wares to the market because Annie had "heard so much about it from other vendors," according to Helen Epstein, spokeswoman for the bakery.

"They bake with no preservatives, artificial coloring or flavoring, using only butter for the pastries," Epstein says. "Typically, we sell out of the most popular pastries and hope this next market year people will fall in love with her breads and they, too, will sell out."

Bernhard's Bread Bakery, which offers Danish, baguettes, pretzels and German pastries, among other baked goods, hopes to bring gluten-free products to this year's market by mid-summer.

"We are working on the recipe right now," says Bernhard Blecken, owner and baker.

Blecken has been at the market since 2010 and says "it is not only a good venue for the business, but also a good way to keep in touch with our customers."

And there's also something for the carnivores at the market. Danny Roller, owner of Barton Creek Farms, says his five years of selling beef pork and beef jerky at the market have been excellent for his business.

"It has helped to get the word out about my business and even gotten a few local Chattanooga restaurants interested in my beef," he says.

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-639.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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