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Jasper Farmers Market opens Saturday, marking 25th year

By Xaviere Chatagnier

Jasper Farmers Market

            The Jasper Farmers Market will start its 25th year on Saturday, April 6th. Last season the market opened with about 25 vendors and grew to over 70 at its summer peak.                       The market opens 7:30 a.m.-noon every Saturday with few exceptions. Later in the summer, June 19-August 28th, the market will also open on Wednesdays from 11-1.

            One question that is repeatedly asked in the spring is “Why do other markets have tomatoes and JFM doesn’t?” The answer is easy, the JFM only sells local produce that the farmers grow themselves. There are no resales here like other markets.    The JFM is 100% locally homegrown/handmade. Most farmer’s markets allow “farmers” to buy produce and resell it as if they grew it themselves, but not the JFM.   And no, there are no local homegrown tomatoes in the spring in North Georgia (no matter what other markets say). Summer is tomato, corn and okra season here.

            Spring is our ‘greens season’ with lettuce, kale, asparagus, radishes, arugula, bok choy and later cabbage and broccoli. Spring is also ‘egg season’ with an abundance of farm fresh eggs at the market.

            Zach Henson hopes to have greens and a bit of asparagus at the first market but Katy bar the door. Zach planted over 3,000 onions this year. No one grows sweet onions like Zach does. He also grows a huge variety of produce all season long.

            Smoky Mountain Produce, Steve and Becky Alexander, grows the best garlic you have ever had. They have planted over 7,000 heads, and then they cure it to perfection. But like most things, we have to wait til June. In the meantime, Steve has the best micro greens, hydroponic lettuce and so much more.

            Jones Family Farm is so local you could almost walk to their farm. Last year they started the season with tender lettuce and greens. They grow in high tunnels, which extends the season by a few weeks. Louise Jones is usually the first to have the coveted tomatoes.

            Riggin Farm sells the best pastured pork you have ever had. Stock up on their bacon while you can as it sells out fast. They also sell pastured eggs and more.

            Tony Pisconeri sells terrific sourdough bread and artisan boules at the JFM. Bring your knives to the market and have them sharpened while you shop. Tony Whitfield, Y-Not Sharp, can sharpen just about everything including your garden hoe and chainsaw chains.

            There are so many different vendors that these are just the tip of the romaine, but you can buy with confidence knowing everything was grown by the farmers and not bought at the state farmers market for resale.

            So come on out this Saturday morning and start your morning off with a cup of Red Bean Harvest Coffee. Kebra will be there serving up the best cup of coffee around. Support your local farmers, without farmers there would be no food.

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