New farmers' market springs up in Banner Elk



Article Published: Jun. 10, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
New farmers' market springs up in Banner Elk

Lees-McRae College students and Avery County growers have started a new farmers' market in downtown Banner Elk.

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Students on the campus of Lees-McRae College have joined forces with Avery County growers to create a Monday evening farmers' market, which will take place weekly, beginning on June 14.

The news became official at the end of May, when the board of trustees for the small liberal arts college approved a proposal by the student group, LOCAL, advocating for a weekly market.

LOCAL, (Lees-McRae On Campus Agriculture and Life) held a test market on May 10, in which four area farmers and about 50 consumers participated with great enthusiasm. The hope is that, with the influx of seasonal residents and vacationers to the area this summer, the market will thrive over the course of the growing season. With the timing of the market (5-7p.m. on Monday evenings,) students hope to encourage Banner Elk residents to swing by on their way home from work and do their grocery shopping for the week.

LOCAL formed in September 2009 with the goal of increasing awareness about and access to fresh, local food for the Lees-McRae community.

In that short amount of time, the group has initiated gardening projects, participated in intercollegiate conferences, and now, with the support of the College's Global Community center, successfully started a farmers' market.

Just as significant is the enthusiasm of the Avery County growers and the potential that the market has for them and for the local economy.

Katie Hayes, advisor to LOCAL and organizer of the market, said, "My phone has been ringing off the hook with farmers who are interested in participating."

Jimmy and Sheila Greene of North Fork Farm participated in the May 10 test market and reported that they were "very, very pleased with the turnout and interest in what we had to offer. We definitely plan to be faithful farmers to this local market."

Among the products you can expect to find at the Lees-McRae farmers' market are grass-fed beef, fresh salad greens, free range duck, Cornish game hens, artisan bread, cut flowers, and locally harvested maple syrup. More products and produce will be added as the season continues.

The location is Tate Lawn, just off of Main Street in downtown Banner Elk and in between Hayes Auditorium and the Chaffee Administration Building. The market runs Mondays from 5-7 p.m. with easy access to parking, and an ATM which is located in the student center.

For more information, contact Katie Hayes at (828) 898-8772 or (hayesk@lmc.edu)

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