published Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Pikeville, Tenn., plans farmers market

Bledsoe County, Tenn., Mayor Bobby Collier stands in the cafeteria of the former Pikeville Elementary School, where an agriculture produce processing center might be placed.
Bledsoe County, Tenn., Mayor Bobby Collier stands in the cafeteria of the former Pikeville Elementary School, where an agriculture produce processing center might be placed.
Photo by Tim Barber.

Officials in Pikeville, Tenn., say a downtown farmers market will tie together ongoing beautification and revitalization efforts with plans for a community kitchen.

City Mayor Phil Cagle and Bledsoe County Mayor Bobby Collier say the small rural town is the perfect setting for the market that they hope becomes a weekend destination as an agricultural showplace.

"It's not just a Bledsoe County project, it's a regional project," Collier said. "The farmers market is steps one, two and three and the community kitchen is steps four and five.

"Right now we're looking at guidelines on the farmers market and how to establish a board of directors, and start construction," he said. Those steps are on a 60- to 90-day timeline.

Local officials met in March with representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create an action plan. Pikeville was named by the ARC in December to a list of four winners of the Appalachian Livable Communities Competition. There were 60 applicants.

The designation allows planners to get technical assistance and implementation support for the market and community kitchen.

Over the last decade, Pikeville's downtown and the courthouse square have undergone a major face-lift with new sidewalks, crosswalks, street lighting and a town clock. More beautification work is planned for Main Street store fronts and a veterans park next to the farmers market site.

Collier and Cagle say the farmers market will be linked to the community kitchen that will be a facility where people can learn how to process fresh-picked produce and other agricultural goods.

The processing facility will be housed in the old Pikeville Elementary School which has a commercial-sized kitchen and could later be expanded with a retail store to sell locally produced agricultural products.

The cost of the farmers market project could tally more than $100,000, including grants totaling between $60,000 and $75,000.

Cagle said city crews will start paving the market site "as soon as the weather breaks" and the first vendors could start using the developing venue by May.

He said he's excited about how the market and kitchen could help draw bicyclists, classic car fans and local agriculture fans together every weekend for year-round activities.

"It's going to be beautiful," Cagle said. "It's going to be an amazing addition to our town."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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