Shelly Barnes: Farmers market fresh is the way to go for produce

Shelly Barnes • Updated Jul 3, 2018 at 12:45 PM

We all know the farmers market is an excellent place for picking up fresh fruits and vegetables. This summer, in addition to picking up some homegrown tomatoes, you can pick up some research-based knowledge, as well. The University of Tennessee Extension in Wilson County will be at the market offering food tastings, as well as selection and storage suggestions for the flavorful fruit and vegetables available at the market. The tastings and outreach are part of a new UT Extension program called farmers market fresh.

According to Christopher Sneed with UT Extension, the primary objective of the farmers market fresh program is to encourage purchasing of fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers markets. 

“We are particularly interested in helping limited-resource families. We hope our presence at the market along with the food tastings and activities will encourage people to check out all the market has to offer,” Sneed said.

Throughout July, members of the local UT Extension office will have a booth at the market where they will be offering food tastings, recipes and research-based advice on the best ways to select and store some of our favorite summertime items. The best part about the program – each person who stops by the booth will receive a recipe card for the food sampled that day. At the end of the season, consumers could have an entire collection of recipes all featuring items fresh from the farmers market.

Recipes to be featured include tomato pasta salad, bruschetta salad, chickpea dip, a refreshing blueberry thyme fruit salad, fresh apple salsa, kale Caesar pasta salad, cucumber tomato salad, and our classic broccoli salad.

“We intentionally picked recipes that would be easy to prepare,” said Janie Burney with UT Extension. “Summer in Tennessee can be hot. So, we selected recipes that did not involve using the stove or oven often. We wanted foods that were cool, refreshing and delicious.” And it just so happens they are all really good for you, as well.

Grown-ups are not the only ones who will enjoy a stop by the farmers market fresh booth. The young ones are sure to enjoy a sample of the food prepared. In addition, they will be able to participate in a weekly children’s challenge. Through the challenge, they are able to earn prizes for the fruits and vegetables their families purchase, prepare and taste at home. To participate, all you need to do is stop by the farmers market fresh booth for all the details.

We are happy to be part of this program. Partnering with the farmers market is just a natural fit for our office given our focus on food preservation, cooking skills and healthy eating. Make plans now to visit UT Extension at the Lebanon farmers market on Tuesdays and Thursdays in July. The Lebanon farmers market is at 143 S. Maple St.

For more information on the Lebanon Farmers Market, please contact Jeff Baines at 615-444-0825 or via e-mail at jbaines@lebanontn.org. The Lebanon farmers market is operated by the city of Lebanon.

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence to provide real life solutions through teaching, discovery and service. Visit ag.tennessee.edu/Pages/default.aspx. For more information on this or other family and consumer sciences-related topics, contact Shelly Barnes, family and consumer sciences Extension agent for UT Extension in Wilson County. Barnes may be reached at sbarnes@utk.edu or 615-444-9584.

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