To market, to market; Winter farmers' market opens Wednesday in Greenback

Melanie Tucker

If you can’t wait for the day when local farmers’ markets open their doors, a visit to Greenback may be in order this week.

That’s because a winter farmers’ market is making its debut, all starting on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Organizer Trish Dean of Eco-Rich Farms in Greenback said she kept hearing from shoppers how they missed their weekly market visits that typically run from late March into October — and then nothing.“When the markets close for the winter, our customers don’t know what to do,” she said.

“They are calling us constantly asking, ‘Where can we get your product?’Trish Dean and her husband Jeff are owners of Eco-Rich Farms and raise their crops, a variety of lettuces and herbs, using an aquaponic food production system. No herbicides, pesticides or other chemicals are used in this soilless system. They also raise tilapia. The fish waste provides a food source for the plants. Both grow together in the integrated system.

When it all comes together

Plans for the winter Greenback farmers’ market began back in August 2016, Dean said. She started asking around for a venue, one that would be inexpensive enough so farmers and also crafters could make a profit.
She found Wendy Tittsworth, owner of the Greeback Depot. Tittsworth was generous enough to provide the space at no cost.
With a location secured, Dean went about the business of recruiting vendors. She said she strived for variety and thinks she found it.
Alongside her at this winter farmers’ market will be Kelly Thomas, a resident of Sevierville, who makes flavored pasta. Then there’s Julie Fawn Boisseau-Craig. This long-time artist works in both porcelain and glass to create wearable art and also functional sculptures.
The list of participants also includes Century Harvest Farms in Greenback (grass-fed beef), J and M Windy Acres (eggs), Bread and Breakfast in Kingston, Sofie’s Handmade Soaps in Tellico Village, Maryville’s Southland Cafe, Janet Ratliff (knitting and homemade greeting cards) and The Granola Queen in Tellico Village.
Hours for the market will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays starting Jan. 11. Dean said plans are to continue weekly to March inside the Greenback Depot and then move outdoors.

Getting some variety

“I didn’t want to duplicate anything,” Dean said. “I want everybody to be able to go in there and be able to sell. When markets have the same thing, people get discouraged. Here, we have one of everything.”
There will even be a lunch area where shoppers can sit down and enjoy a sandwich or slice of cake and coffee.
Some of these vendors know each other from participating in the farmers’ market at Tellico Village. Dean will be managing it this coming season.
Boisseau-Craig is originally from California but said she has lived all over the country. She resides in Rockford and is working on her studio, Wild Pony Studio.
In addition to working in porcelain and glass, she often adds metals and woods to the mix. She has taught at Western Carolina University and Occonoluftee Institute for Cultural Art. She holds a master of fine arts degree.
She’s been an artist from a young age. “I did my first craft show when I was 12,” she said.
The idea of an off-season market excites this artist. “It’s just nice to have a place to sell in the winter. Most shows die down, and I am not at the point of doing the big shows in Florida.”
Thomas makes a variety of flavored pastas, going from making them as gifts into full-time production. This resident of Sevierville said she uses local ingredients whenever possible.
“I source the flavors from local farmers,” she said. “I have one pasta that I make with chili powder made with locally grown chili peppers.”
Many are new at the flavored pasta table so Thomas provides recipes on her website, She likes pairing pastas with fresh vegetables and olive oil.
Her products are also sold in specialty shops in Knoxville and surrounding areas. She participates in area farmers’ markets as well.
Thomas and the others are looking forward to the Greenback Farmers Market. Dean said there is room for more vendors.
This will be Thomas’ first time visiting Greenback. “It will be an adventure,” she said. Dean hopes her hard work pays off and shoppers will find what they are looking for.
“I wanted it to be nice from the start,” she said. “I want people to come, like it and return.”