Each week the Farmers Market, the only one in the Knoxville area on a Wednesday evening, offers fresh produce, local food, cooking demonstrations, creations from the UT Culinary Institute, entertainment, children’s events, educational information, and more.
Mary Rogers, a research associate with the department of plant sciences, works with the UT Harvest Market, selling local and certified organic produce. The Harvest Market, originally composed of five interns and a few tables, started a year ago and has expanded into the Farmers Market, which includes Knoxville-area vendors.
“The students can grow the produce and come to the market and interact with customers,” Rogers said. “They get the experience of learning how to grow their own food and then also marketing it.”
“I think local food is important for a variety of reasons. You’re supporting your local economy and growers in your community,” Rogers said. “Also the food is fresher and oftentimes tastes better. And the market environment is fun because it supports community.”
The market does not limit itself to selling produce.
The “Insect Zoo,” a small collection of bugs, such as cockroaches, scorpions, and tarantulas, doesn’t have anything for sale, but tries to excite people about the world around them. Operated by Jerome Grant and Greg Wiggins, the “zoo” aims to educate market-goers about the advantages and disadvantages of insects for gardens.
“We want to help people appreciate bugs,” Grant said. “If you’re growing vegetables, chances are, you’re probably going to run into some insects and we want to help gardeners understand them a little better.”
Among the items available at the Farmers Market are squash, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, onions, potatoes, herbs, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, cookies, and bread.
The market is hosted by the UT Institute of Agriculture’s Organic and Sustainable Crops Unit and takes place from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. each Wednesday through October at the UT Gardens on Neyland Drive.
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