By Mike Steely

“We’ve got about 30 vendors with everything including local tomatoes, sweet corn, beans, okra, cucumbers, squash, zucchini and berries,” said Jeff Cannon.

Cannon and his wife, Virginia, host the Dixie Lee Farmers Market every Saturday morning from May to October in the parking lot of the Renaissance Center at Dixie Lee Junction in west Knox County. It’s the time of year for fresh local produce and products and the Dixie Lee Farmers Market also offers crafts, book sales and signing, hand-made knives, honey and much more including information from local businesses and services.

Jim Farmer, a prolific Knox County writer, had his books for sale and told The Focus that there’s a new one being published soon. Bill and Pat Phelps of Loudon County were there selling his self-made knives and crafts; Marshall Dudley of Loudon was promoting his pure honey; and Michelle “Taja” Durham was displaying and selling her unique framed planters. From one end to the other the Saturday morning vendors, from home gardens, farms, and workshops were doing a booming business.

Some vendors only take part in the Dixie Lee event and others travel to other Farmers Markets around the area to offer their products and produce.

Just across town another Farmers Market was underway at Market Square. The downtown market, which starts at 9 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. on Saturdays, also happens each Wednesday from 11 to 2 p.m.  Dandridge has a market downtown every Saturday morning as does Gatlinburg, Lenoir City and Seymour. The Seymour market is at the First Baptist Church at 11621 Chapman Highway each Saturday from 8 until noon.

On Mondays and Fridays the Fresh from the Earth Farmers Market takes place at 2 p.m. at the Grove Center in Oak Ridge and on Mondays, from 3 until 6 p.m. is the Norris Farmers Market on the Commons.

On Tuesday and Fridays from 3 until 6 in the afternoon there is a market at the Laurel Church of Christ at 3457 Kingston Pike.

The Oak Ridge Farmers Market is every Wednesday from 3-6 and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon at Jackson Square at Georgia Avenue.

UT’s Farmers Market at UT Gardens at 2431 Joe Johnson Drive is every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. The Maryville Farmers Market goes from 3:30 until 6:30 on Wednesdays at New Providence Presbyterian Church on West Broadway and Saturdays starting at 9 a.m. on Church Avenue.

The New Harvest Park Farmers Market is held each Thursday from 3 until 6 p.m., located just off Washington Pike at 4700 New Harvest Pike, just beyond the Target Shopping Center.

Other farmers markets in our area include the Lakeshore Park Market on Fridays from 3-6, the Ebenezer Road FARM Market on Tuesdays from 3-6 at the United Methodist Church, and the CCC Beardsley Farm sale each Wednesday. There’s also a farmers market at the Tellico Yacht Club.

The Lonsdale neighborhood has a second Saturday International Food and Craft Market from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at 1317 Louisiana Avenue and the Southern Station, downtown Knoxville, holds a Farmers Market each Monday from 3 until 6 p.m.

From 3-6 p.m. each Thursday, the Marble Springs State Historic Site on Gov. John Sevier Highway has a farmers market.

Shopping at a farmers market can be fun and informational. Vendors can tell you about their produce or products and you know exactly where it came from and how fresh it is. Spending your money directly with growers helps the local economy and recirculates money within our area.