The Place Where I Can Say "YES!"

Welcome to the August 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Farmer’s Markets
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about something new they’ve learned about their local farmers.

The farmer’s market at New Harvest Park is a relatively new farmer’s market in the Knoxville area. It’s not the largest market around, but at least, I can find a parking place, the kids can jump in the fountains and it’s close to my house.

There are so many reasons to love your local farmer’s market. It’s a great place to foster a sense of community and to get to know your local farmers. Each week our market usually offers some sort of educational experience to accompany our trip, so it’s educational too. There is also a small community garden that is taken care of by a few volunteers and home school students. The kids and I have loved the learning opportunities provided by Ijams Nature Center.  Learning about the birds and bugs in our area has provided some awesome opportunities for nature study.
Do you  feel like you’re always saying “no” to your children? “No!” to the junk food everywhere. “No” to the processed food on every corner. I love that I can say “yes!” at the farmer’s market. We do enjoy the homemade treats each week at our market. I know these are local folks, with small businesses who put their heart and soul into their product. Here are some of my favorites:

VG’s Bakery is our treat spot each week. We usually bring our treats home and enjoy them with a cup of tea in the evening before bedtime. It’s become a family ritual.  We look forward to it! My favorite this year is the blueberry roll with lemon glaze. YUM! Dave (fondly known as ‘the bakery guy’ in our house) brings the goodies to most of the markets around town, we’re lucky enough to have a market somewhere around town almost every day of the week. He barters with local farmers to get the freshest fruits to have VG make the best hand pies and rolls.  So you’ll see the fruit that is in season reflected in the assortment of treats available that week. Best of all I love that he knows my kids’ favorite cookies and I can say “yes” to these made from scratch goodies.  I dare you to visit VG’s bakery website and just look at their photos…I’m drooling at the very thought! You know Michael Pollen’s food rule that says “eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” Well, I kind of extend that rule a bit to include these handmade goodies.

Cruze farms is a local, family dairy. They have the BEST ice cream with flavors like lemon buttermilk and salty caramel. Their  flavors of ice cream are also reflective of the local, seasonal produce available.  Their milk has a cream top and tastes delectable. My kids look forward to a cone of ice cream from one of the Cruze farm girls. They are a staple at many of the market’s around town. With fall around the corner, I’m already looking forward to heading out to Cruze farms and having a blast at the corn maze.

Nothing beats local honey. Doug’s Other Honey is one of our favorite sources for local, raw, unfiltered honey. He has a wildflower honey that is so my absolute favorite at the moment. Local honey has so many health benefits. The taste of their honey is astounding. They offer free samples each week and he has the cutest labels of any honey I’ve ever seen.

We love Mountain Meadows Farm. We are members of their fruit and veggie CSA. This is the third farm where I’ve used their CSA program. I am most impressed with the quality of Mountain Meadow Farms, I love that we get fruit in our CSA. We’ve enjoyed the most amazing peaches, grapes, blueberries and blackberries so far this year. They use non-GMO seeds, pick their produce the same day as market the food travels less than 25 miles to get to market. We pay ahead for the season and then we pick up our share each week. I love the variety and look forward to the fruit and veggie surprise each week.

Wisner Farms is a farm that is close to our heart. This is where we bought our lovely ladies, our laying hens! They are a small family run farm. We always enjoy ourselves when we visit their farm. There are happy chickens, turkeys, and cows around every corner. They sell grass fed, pasture raised meats, eggs, and homemade bread.

We just had a new aquaponic greenhouse start coming to the market. Greater Growth is a local, sustainable organic company that harvests fish (tilapia)
and greens here in Knoxville.
The true advantage of shopping at the farmer’s market each week is truly the people. The vendors, as well as the customers, are gems. I always run into a friend from Holistic Moms, La Leche League or a homeschooling friend while I’m there. It really does foster a sense of community each week to be around the people the plow the fields, that raise the animals and that care about our planet and the food we eat.
If you’re new to shopping at farmers markets, I highly recommend bringing cash though many of the vendors will accept checks. The market has also started to accept EBT cards, isn’t that fabulous?  I’ve also learned that I should bring more cash than I think because you never know what new and exciting options may be there each week. I do get frustrated if I end up running out of money and didn’t get everything I wanted. I also recommend bringing a cooler. It’s a good idea to keep your fruits, veggies, treats and meats cool in the hot weather. It also prevents you from getting an overload of plastic bags to lug home.

Most of the farmers are not certified organic, which can be quite expensive. This really doesn’t present a problem because once you talk to your farmers and learn about their farming practices you’ll see that many of them are chemical and pesticide free. Many small family farmers are also dedicated to sustainability and practice environmentally friendly farming. If you’re not sure, ask! Many of the farmers are Certified Naturally Grown which is a grassroots organization that makes certification for organic, small farms much more attainable.
So the next time your Knoxville on a Thursday afternoon between the hours of 3:00-6:00 I hope you’ll consider stopping by the New Harvest Park Farmer’s Market. Pick up a cinnamon roll, a cone of ice cream or a basket of organic vegetables, you won’t be disappointed.
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 14 with all the carnival links.)