By Sarah Colson
It’s high season at the Johnson City Farmers Market, with locally grown tomatoes, corn, peppers, squash and much more coming in by the bushel. Along with enjoying arguably the best time of the year, some patrons and vendors interviewed at the Cherry Street lot last Wednesday expressed a bit of concern over how well the new market site at Commerce and Main streets, set to open this fall, will work for the market.
“We just come to the farmer’s market because we like it,” said John and Bonnie Martin, local farmers new to the area.
The duo has only been in the area since December after retiring and moving here from South Dakota. They say adjusting to the area’s new climate and humidity has been a challenge, one they have learned much from.
“We have had some pests and problems with the crops that we didn’t have in South Dakota so we’re learning what grows here and how to take care of it,” Bonnie said.
The couple hopes to put into practice next year what they’ve learned this year at the farmer’s market. Still, they said they’re not so sure there will be space for them at the new venue, a nearly 20,000-square-foot building currently under construction between Wilson Avenue and Founders Park in downtown Johnson City.
The building is set to open in early November and will take the name “The Pavilion at Founders Park.”
“Well it looks beautiful,” Bonnie said, “but we don’t know if there’s going to be room enough for all the vendors.”
Dianna Cantler, the downtown development manager for the Washington County Economic Development Council, said the pavilion actually will have nearly 100 slots for vendors. They include 44 under roof, 18 along Commerce Street and 36 along a new fence that will front on the Norfolk-Southern rail line.
Julie McKinney has been a vendor at the farmer’s market for about 10 years. She’s excited to see what the new building will be like, but said the only thing that concerns her is, again, the size.
Charlotte Morris and Becky Sams come every Saturday for an Amish donut and good conversation. They said they are also concerned about the upcoming change.
“There are plenty of parking areas here and we can go over and sit under that tree, drink our coffee and catch up,” Sams said.
Morris agreed, “We like to go grab a donut, then go sit, visit and talk and just walk around to see what everybody’s got. I’m happy right here.”
To keep updated about the Johnson City Farmer’s Market, public meetings are held the first Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. in the Media Room at Memorial Park Community Center located at 510 Bert St. in Johnson City. To learn more, visit Johnsoncityfarmersmarket.com.