The Kingsport Farmers Market joins markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week from August 2 – 8, 2020.
In the midst of a global pandemic, farmers markets—like all other small businesses—have been scrambling to continue operations for the farmers and communities that depend on them. Market managers have been at the forefront of adapting rapid solutions and innovation to protect staff, customers, and community. When conventional food supply chains failed at the start of the pandemic, farmers markets and local food systems clearly displayed the resiliency of short supply chains and interest in local foods spiked nationwide.
“This year has proved the resilience of our vendors, especially our local farmers,” Market Manager Kristie Leonard said. “I appreciate the patience of our vendors and our customers as we all try to adapt to ever-changing guidelines in this new normal. This has not been an easy year for anyone but with the support of our community, the farmers market has been successful.”
National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration of farmers markets coordinated by the Farmers Market Coalition, a membership-based 503(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports farmers markets nationwide through training, technical assistance, and network-building. This year, the campaign is centered on the essential role that farmers markets play in the food system as demonstrated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Kingsport Farmers Market began in 1977 and currently hosts over 110 farmers and crafters selling a wide variety of products, from fresh produce to local meats, baked goods and handmade crafts. National Farmers Market Week is a celebration of these vendors and the benefits of having local produce and goods available to the Kingsport community.
This year, the Kingsport Farmers Market looks much different than previous seasons. The market opening was delayed until mid-May, a month off from the planned opening date. During that nebulous month, market staff kept a running spreadsheet of vendor contact information and available products. That way, customers could reach their favorite vendors directly to purchase products, which helped vendors to not lose any produce or profits as a result of the delayed opening.
In lieu of the usual in-person programming, the market has turned to social media as a way to provide some of that education fun. This year’s Agriculture Literacy Week in April went entirely virtual, and each day KFM shared agriculture-based educational videos and activities provided by market partners and vendors. The market has also amped up its “Faces of the Farm” social media campaign to highlight vendors and educate the public on the goods they have to offer.
KFM will also celebrate National Farmers Market Week virtually this year, so tune into Facebook and Instagram for a week of learning about the important contributions farmers markets make to communities and individuals.
“Farmers markets are essential to the life and livelihood of millions of shoppers and tens of thousands of farmers.” says Ben Feldman, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “But farmers markets don’t happen by accident. It takes the planning, organization, and execution of dedicated individuals and community organizations. That work is harder than ever and farmers markets and the vendors who sell at them need all the help they can get.”
The market is currently open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. KFM continues to ask customers to abide by the COVID guidelines listed on kingsportfarmersmarket.org so that the market can continue to operate safely.