Every Saturday morning from April to November, the Maryville Farmers’ Market fills Founder’s Square in the heart of Historic Downtown Maryville. The Maryville Farmers’ Market website states that its mission is “to promote the sale of local farm products [and to] improve the freshness, taste, and nutritional value of produce available.”
This market not only benefits the farmers or regular consumers, but is a great opportunity for college students. Located right past the pedestrian bridge, the market offers surprisingly affordable, locally sourced and incredibly fresh groceries. This is the perfect opportunity for students who would like to eat something besides Pearson’s or simply don’t want to move their car for a trip to the store. The market is a short 15-minute walk from campus, taking you right past Vienna Coffee Shop, another Maryville student favorite.
One market specialty are the fresh flowers that can be purchased from a variety of vendors each week, one of these vendors being Rainbow Roots Florals. Abigail Tumbleson, an employee of Rainbow Roots, points out how supportive all the vendors are of each other. She says she has seen competing vendors suggest one another to their customers and that they often make purchases of their own. She has been working the market fairly regularly since last summer and arrives each week at 7 a.m. to set up. Her favorite part is “seeing all the people who come every week and [the customers] that come back just for flowers.”
Not only does the market offer homegrown flowers and produce, but also a variety of baked goods. Bake That Dough, a company founded in Knoxville, Tennessee that ships nationwide can also be found at the market. Employee Michael Hayes has been working for Bake That Dough since February, but the business has been up and running for almost three years. He says that the weather is a pretty good indicator of how busy he will be each week. Michael also pointed out how friendly the customers and other vendors are.
“I’ve been [working the market for] only a few months but everyone has been really nice,” Hayes said.
One Saturday a month, local crafters have an opportunity to participate along with the farmers. On these Saturdays, the market is packed to the brim with home-baked goods, handmade jewelry, fresh produce, blooming locally-grown flowers and many of Maryville’s most creative residents.
An example of one of these crafters is Lisa Johnston, who specializes in jewelry and fabric work. Lisa has been crafting for around five years and has been selling at the Maryville Market since the beginning of this season. She is there each month as well as other craft shows in the Maryville area.
When asked how she got into crafting, Lisa said “My mother is a professional artist, and she’s always encouraged me to paint so it kind of started with painting. And then I started making jewelry, and everyone in my family encouraged me to start making jewelry.” Lisa also echoed other vendors’ statements that the Maryville Farmers’ Market is a very kind and uncompetitive place in general, stating that all of the vendors know each other, and she sees many of the same customers each month.
First-year student Lillian Peterson says that the market has given her an opportunity to support and learn about local businesses, spend quality time with her friends, get time outside and meet new people. She was also surprised by how affordable all of the items are. In fact, the first time she visited, she spent less than thirty dollars and still left with a bouquet of flowers, a freshly baked biscuit and a handmade ring.
If a Maryville College student is looking for a way to spend their Saturday morning, is in need of some groceries or simply wants a better glimpse into the rural small town they live in, the Maryville Farmers’ Market is a great place to start.