JOHNSON CITY FARMER'S MARKET is a great place to find a wide variety of fresh produce, plants, crafts, homemade goodies such as jams, jellies, pickles, candy. The first day of the market for this year is Wednesday, May 4, and it will be open Wednesdays and Saturdays, 7:30 to 2:00. Early comers get the best stuff, but there's always plenty. It's also a good place to visit with the farm families who have been coming for years.
What will change this year is the enforcement of regulations about the requirement that those who bring food products prepare them in a licensed kitchen, which is an expensive process especially for those who are bringing things to the market in an attempt to make a little extra income in tough times. The regulation defines prepared food as anything that is manipulated in any way - even just slicing the tomatoes or cutting fruit for a sample.
These regulations seem like over-kill in a casual setting like this. These are the folks who bring pies and casseroles to church potlucks and enjoy hearing people rave about Marie's desserts or Harriet's casserole. Next thing, they'll be regulating baked beans at barbecues. I don't ever remember hearing or reading about there being a problem with all the things we enjoy at occasions like this.
The Johnson City Press reports the progress through legislation of a bill that would let those who sell less than $1,000 per season work without a license. Obviously, people who come once in a while with a few items are not going to want to go to Knoxville and pay several hundred dollars for a license. If the bill passes, vendors would just have to inform people that what they sell is not inspected by the state. Common sense should rule in an informal situation like this. Some of these growers have been coming for many years and people who go there most Saturdays are probably buying from a friend whose pickles are known to be delicious or whose pies are better than the buyer could make if she had time. I know. It's not unusual to meet others you know with their bags and baskets full.
I won't make it to the opening of the 35th year tomorrow and I can't go on this Saturday, later I'll do my share of helping the local economy and the farmers while I'm gathering goodies.