Farmers Market: Here we grow again

Friday, September 11, 2009
The Marshall County Farmers Market is a place where regulars and vendors come to meet, talk and buy and sell their wares.

The Marshall County Farmers Market is doing much better this season than last year. Long-time regular Vickie Wilburn says there are eight to 10 vendors on Fridays, and five or six on Tuesdays. The market started before the end of June, and will be staying open until the end of October.

"Next year I'll know better what to grow," says first-year vendor Mark Ivie. He plans to grow more squash, beans and corn, and thinks he could also sell more cantaloupes and more fruit. Ivie's 44-acre farm is in the Milltown area, and he grows hay and has some horses, as well as having a 3/4 acre garden. One of the vegetables he's grown this year is tomatillos. They look like small green tomatoes inside a papery husk, and Ivie says they are good made into fresh salsa. He had to make some and bring it for people to taste, but "as soon as they tasted it they knew" they wanted some.

Ivie came to Middle Tennessee from Alaska via California. He's a product designer, and has worked on over a dozen movies, supervising the sword fighting and acting as a stunt double. He's been married for two years to a woman with family in the area, and they're expecting their first child, so Ivie wants to stick close to home for a while. He said they chose Middle Tennessee for the quality of life here, and the opportunity to return to the basics and good values.

Richard Tate of Lewisburg is another enthusiastic first-year vendor. His background is 20 years in management for the auto industry in Bowling Green, Ky. This year his garden near Cornersville is one acre, but next year he plans to expand to 10 acres, and he's just bought a greenhouse.

"It's lots of hard work," says Tate. He has 250 tomato plants staked, and says it takes two or three hours to pick the tomatoes to bring to market.

"It takes much longer when we pick beans," he adds.

Abundant rain has made it easier for gardeners like Ivie and Tate to get good yields this summer, but it's had the opposite effect for the Haynes Honey Farm, another regular at the farmers market.

"We've got more bees and less honey," said Judy Haynes. She explains the rain has kept the bees from flying to gather nectar, so they haven't made as much honey. The honey farm has over 30 hives this year, but Judy is nearly sold out of honey. Judy and her husband David still go out to collect swarms of wild bees - they got two last week.

Other farmers markets are reported to have vendors selling produce they've picked up from the Mennonites near Lawrenceburg, but everyone at the Lewisburg site seems to be selling fruits and vegetables they grew themselves.