I’m always being schooled by the many, many smarter people than myself that I continually run into. It wasn’t that many months ago that I had a conversation with a group and the idea of Winter Market came up. I pointed out the obvious: farms aren’t exactly awash in crops from December to April. Very quickly I was informed that other cities, such as Seattle (I believe it was) have very successful markets that continue year-round.
Fast forward to this Saturday and the conversation all comes full-circle as Knoxville welcomes its new Winter Market. Sponsored by Nourish Knoxville and spearheaded by Charlotte Tolley who also operates the Market Square Farmers’ Market, it holds the promise to be a winter food break-through of sorts. If it works and works well could we see a weekly market next winter? Who knows?
The market will be located inside the Southern Railway Station and will offer its goods from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM starting this Saturday and running every second Saturday of the month from January through April. At that point, of course, the Market Square Farmers’ Market will resume. I recently talked with Charlotte in the beautiful room which will host the market. It’s on the first floor on the western side of the building. It’s a large, beautiful, room, though it is a much smaller space than we may be used to thinking of when we think of a farmers’ market.
The vendors for this round will be farm and food products only. Not knowing how much response to anticipate, Charlotte reached out to them first, only to realize they were so enthusiastic they filled all her available spaces. My astute readers probably know the answer to the next question without my explication, but I had to ask, “What farm products? It’s winter!” Charlotte patiently explained that meat, honey, Eggs and Cheese, for example, don’t depend on the summer sunshine to make their appearance. There will also likely be baked goods, sauces and woven goods – as long as the yarn is produced on the farm that weaves it!
The concept answers several needs. First, it begins utilization of the new Blue Slip-owned space that we talked about yesterday. It also gives the farmers something to do with their winter crops – you can’t tell your chickens to stop laying so many winter eggs, for example, just because the Market Square Farmers’ Market has closed for the winter. It also offers Food Trucks a great place to gather – when we talked she said there were five scheduled, including Jeff’s Three Bears Coffee. Java will also be serving up from their ChemX system.
If all this won’t be enough to pull you from the house, consider that tours of the vintage trains will be offered on the hour by representatives from the Old Smoky Railway Museum and you have the makings for a great family outing. It’s also indoors – except for the food trucks, of course – so weather isn’t a concern and restrooms are available, which is a plus.
I noted that it is closer to downtown Knoxville’s active neighborhoods to the north – Parkridge, Old North, Fourth and Gill – and started to wonder if this wouldn’t be a great place for a year-round Market. Add the variable of the large amount of surface parking right at the entrance and it’s easy to imagine commuters liking the location better than driving into the center of downtown. But don’t worry, Market Square fans, the Market will return to its primary location just as soon as it is available in May. Currently covered with an ice skating rink, the square will very soon play host to a string of spring events which would make the market impossible to hold on that location until that time.
A special note of thanks goes out to Coffee and Chocolate and Cafe 4 for making my current posts possible. I’ve sat in Coffee and Chocolate to write the posts and I’ve used Cafe 4’s wireless signal (for some reason I can’t get the Internet through Coffee and Chocolate’s signal) because I am currently unserved by Comcast for Internet. For the last two weeks, plus. It’s one of the trials of living downtown, I’m afraid.
One final thing: there’s also an inscription over Charlotte’s left shoulder, above, that I intended to mention, but the more I got into it, the more I wondered if it didn’t deserve a post of its own. So, hopefully, we’ll make this a great success and, perhaps, expand it in the future so we can be like those fancy cities with their year-round markets. And the next time someone brings it up downtown, I’ll shut my mouth.
Here’s a list of all the vendors to expect on Saturday: