Farmers markets in the Chattanooga area don't completely die out in winter. While most go dormant, a few persevere with limited offerings such as bread, meat and cheese. Still, the arrival of spring brings the promise of proliferation. Farmers markets start popping up as the first crops go in the ground. Expect their popularity to increase as the growing season progresses.
"People seem to be wanting to find locally sourced food," says Nancy Rucker, Hamilton County director of University of Tennessee/Tennessee State University Extension.
Part of the interest stems from the trend toward self-sufficiency wrought by supply-chain shortages and the home cocooning that led consumers to cook more and can more during the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than that "is the economics of it all," Rucker says.
"I think the issue of trying to stretch our food dollar is key right now," she says. "We're still eating out. You can go anywhere any day of the week and places are still crowded. But I think there's probably a greater number of people looking to stretch their food dollars. Most farmers markets have reasonable prices for fresh fruits and vegetables that can be prepared at home."
However, she reminds consumers not to expect the all-encompassing array that they'll find at supermarkets, which can source foods from around the world. There's a peak season for any locally grown fruit and vegetable, and that time varies greatly from, say, asparagus to zucchini.
"Most hit the height [of the growing season] in early to mid June throughout July," she says.
Local farmers markets will be in full swing by then, with colorful mounds of tomatoes, corn, peaches and watermelons to beckon customers. As markets ease back into business in April and May, there's little, if any, local produce to sell. (Growers with greenhouses or hothouses would be the exception.)
"We're starting out with plants," says Dan Sanders, manager of the St. Alban's Farmers Market in Hixson. "There'll be a couple of vendors pretty big in that area to start your garden or do some landscaping as well."
Sanders says the St. Alban's market will have a soft opening on April 16 and its grand opening, with musical entertainment, on May 7. The last of its winter "tailgate markets" will be this Saturday. These more casual gatherings of vendors have been held first and third Saturdays in the off season "mostly because people keep calling saying they want their eggs and honey," he says. April 16 will begin the every Saturday rotation through the growing season.
Here's a look at some of the farmers markets around the region. They range from registered nonprofits to pop-up settings.
Yours not listed? Email Life@timesfreepress.com to be included in continuing coverage and to be added to this story online.
Contact Lisa Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6281.
AREA FARMERS MARKETS
Note: Schedules are subject to change.
- Athens Farmers Market: Market Park, 106 S. Jackson St., Athens, Tenn. Spring hours are 2-5 p.m. Tuesdays. Summer hours are 2-5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturdays. Fall hours are 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. A 12th season celebration is scheduled July 9. 423-744-2700, option 3
- Bradley County Farmers Market: 3110 Peerless Road, Cleveland, Tenn. Open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays spring through fall.
- Brainerd Farmers Market: Opens Saturday, April 23, at Grace Episcopal Church, 20 Belvoir Ave. Open 10 a.m.-noon from the third Saturday of April through the first Saturday of December. 423-243-3250
- Chattanooga Market: Opening weekend for the region's largest producer-only marketplace is April 23-24 (10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday), then Sundays through Nov. 20 at First Horizon Pavilion, 1926 Carter St. Chattanooga Oktoberfest is also a two-day weekend, Oct. 8-9. Holiday Markets move inside the Chattanooga Convention Center the first three weekends of December. chattanoogamarket.com
- Chattanooga River Market: Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays through April 17, then Saturdays only through Oct. 8 on the Tennessee Aquarium plaza, 1 Broad St. chattanoogamarket.com
- Collegedale Market: Collegedale Commons, 4950 Swinyar Drive. Opens May 10 and runs 4:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through late October. 423-664-3022
- Dayton Farmers Market: 200 Washington St., Dayton, Tenn. (behind Chamber of Commerce). Farmers are permitted to set up every day from daylight to dark. 423-775-1817
- Flintstone Farmers Market: Cart & Seoul Restaurant, 67 Sanford Lane, Flintstone, Ga. Open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. every second Saturday. The April 9 market will have a spring and Easter theme.
- Lookout Farmers Market, East Brainerd: Christ United Methodist Church, 8645 East Brainerd Road. Open 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays. 423-838-9804
- Lookout Farmers Market, Red Bank: Red Bank United Methodist Church, 3800 Dayton Blvd. Open 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays. lookoutfarmersmarket.com
- Main Street Farmers Market: 1804 Chestnut St. Open every Wednesday year-round. Hours are 4-6 p.m. during daylight saving time., 4-5:30 p.m. during standard time. mainstfarmersmarket.com
- Marion County Farmers Market: 255 Turner St., Jasper, Tenn. Open 7 a.m.-noon (Central time) Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 423-942-2656.
- Market at the Mill: Old Woolen Mill, 445 Church St., Cleveland, Tenn. Open 3-6 p.m. Thursdays starting June 9 through August. mainstreetcleveland.com
- Mountain Top Market: 331 U.S. 127, Signal Mountain. Open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays (weather permitting). 423-521-2470, facebook.com/mountaintopmarket/
- Ooltewah Farmers Market: Ooltewah Nursery & Landscape Co., 5829 Main St. Open Thursdays year-round. Hours are 3-6 p.m. April through October, 3-5 p.m. November through March. Spring Fling days, celebrating market's 10th season with new vendors and door prizes, are April 7 and 14. 423-238-9775
- Rabbit Valley Farmers Market: 96 Depot St. Ringgold, Ga. Open 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, starting April 30 with a wine and art market. First farmers market is May 7. Other events coincide with summer solstice, Memorial Day and Ringgold's 175th birthday. 423-903-1379
- Soddy-Daisy Farmers Market: Poe's Tavern Historical Park by Soddy-Daisy City Hall, 9817 Dayton Pike. Open 8 a.m.-noon (or later depending on vendor) Saturdays, May through October. 423-332-5323.
- St. Alban's Hixson Market: St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 7514 Hixson Pike. Open 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, April 16 through October. Grand-opening celebration with music is May 7. Customer-request "tailgate markets," with limited options, operate first and third Saturdays in the off season. The church serves a free pancake breakfast on third Saturdays. Growers who have excess produce but don't wish to set up at the market may donate it to the market for donation to a local food bank. 423-842-1342.
- Walker County Farmers Market: Walker County Agricultural Center, 10052 N. Highway 27, Rock Spring, Ga. Opening day is May 4. New hours are 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, May through September. 706-397-9958.
GARDEN EVENTS CALENDAR
These are among the upcoming home and garden events to help you prepare for the growing season.
Note: For Crabtree Farm events, 1000 E. 30th St., see the calendar at crabtreefarms.org/events. For events at Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, 400 Garden Road, go to reflectionriding.org/events. For events at The Chattery, 1800 Rossville Ave., visit thechattery.org/classes.
- Ongoing: Home Canning 101, recorded webinar by Hamilton County Extension agent June Puett for The Chattery, $15
- April 1-2, May 7: Plant Ramble: Native Gardening and Landscaping walks at Reflection Riding, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.,$15
- April 2, 9, 23: What's This Thing? program to identify flowers, plants and insects, 1-2 p.m. at Reflection Riding, free
- April 5: Native Plant Sale at Reflection Riding opens to nonmembers; order online through March 31
- April 6: Gardening Series: Warm Season Vegetables, 6-7:30 p.m. at The Chattery, $25
- April 8: Canning 101 class at Crabtree Farms, 5:30-8:30 p.m. $40.
- April 9: Plant giveaway at Daisy United Methodist Church, 9508 Dayton Pike, Soddy-Daisy, 8 a.m. until plants are gone, pick two for free, then up to 10 more for $2 each. 423-326-9248 (call or text)
- April 9: Introduction to Beekeeping, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Crabtree Farms, $30
- April 9: Backyard Spring Herbs for Health, 1-3 p.m. at Crabtree Farms, $25
- April 9-10: Master Your Garden Expo by Master Gardeners of Hamilton County at Camp Jordan, 323 Camp Jordan Parkway, East Ridge, $10 (both days)
- April 13, May 18, June 15: Invasive Species Walk, 9-11 a.m. at Reflection Riding, $5-$10
- April 16, June 11: Plant Ramble: Medicinal and Edible Plants, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Reflection Riding, $15-$25
- April 21: The Garden Club monthly meetup at Crabtree Farms, 6-8 p.m., $30
- April 22-24: Spring Plant Sale & Festival at Crabtree Farms
- May 21: Organic Pest and Disease Management, 10 a.m.-noon at Crabtree Farms, $25