Southside farmers market wins agency's applause

Southside farmers market wins agency's applause

July 16th, 2011 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

• What: The Main Street Farmers Market was cited by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency with the "healthy communities" recognition for its contribution to both rural farmers and Southside residents.

• Company: The market is a once-weekly shopping experience that provides fresh, locally grown or created food. Vendors include farmers, bakers, gardeners and artisans who sell their wares to the public each Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m.

• Location: 197 W. Main St., at the corner of Main and Williams streets

• How it's green? By buying from local farmers who use sustainable agricultural methods of growing food, consumers don't encourage methods of production that use large quantities of fuel to transport products across the country or the world, said Padgett Arnold, market manager. Many farmers are certified organic growers.

• Why do it this way? In 2009, founders noticed the Southside was a virtual "food desert," or an area that lacks any serious food options for residents. They decided that in addition to reducing the region's carbon footprint, the planned market would help connect farmers and consumers. By cutting out the middleman, consumers are able to get fresher, more local food, and the farmers themselves are able to grow their profit margins. David Tulis 7/15/11 Without such markets, many smaller to medium-sized farmers simply could not afford to stay in business.

• What's the cost? Use of the parking lot has been free, and the Lyndhurst Foundation has helped defray some expenses. Each of the 20 vendors pays $10 each week to put together a stipend for Arnold.

• Plan for growth: Organizers are considering other locations that give the market access to water, shade and restrooms. That will enable them to grow the diversity of offerings and, for instance, bring out chefs to demonstrate their products.