By IAN SKOTTE
Patrons of Tullahoma’s farmer’s market will argue that there is no better place for fresh produce.
Every Wednesday through October, the parking lot of Trinity Lutheran Church at the corner of Cedar Lane and Wilson Avenue becomes a farmer‘s market, where farmers and gardeners sell seasonal fruits and vegetables.
According to Terrell Starks, eager customers line up around the block to buy their favorite foods.
While jogging Wednesday, Liz Davenport, a Utah native, happened upon the market and picked up a few items. She usually goes to the supermarket, but the spread displayed by vendors caught her eye.
“We were out jogging and thought we’d check it out,” said Davenport, who was out with her toddler.
Nancy Northcott, on the other hand, has been coming to the market for 10 years. She says it’s the fresh produce that brings her back year after year.
“It’s just a pleasant time to come and get some good food that I wouldn’t have otherwise,” she said.
Northcott prefers the harvest from local farmers over what’s available at supermarkets.
“It doesn’t last as long and it doesn’t taste as good,” she said of the items carried by most big-name retailers.
Several tomatoes looked “just-picked” ripe, but watermelons and pumpkins were among the best sellers at the market this week.
Starks recommends thumping watermelons to test for freshness.
“If they sound hollow,” he said, “they’re overripe.”
Several farmers were limited in how much produce they had to sell. A drought earlier this year coupled with a frost kept some from having as large a harvest as in previous years.
“It’s still affecting us even though we’re getting a lot of rain,” said local farmer Elbert Brown, who’s been coming to the market since his children (who are now grandparents) were small. “We’ve had a terrible year.”
The Browns sell okra, beans, squash, peppers and even a few eggplants. If there is any doubt some of the produce sold at the farmer’s market isn’t homegrown, Brown says there are a few farmers “on the line” who “bird-dog” the rest of the group, making sure it is.
Candace Pederson with Deep-Set Farm in Normandy noted that they have had several dwarfed plants as a result of the drought. However, this is their first year working with Normandy’s soil, “So we’re not really familiar of what it’s supposed to be like,” she said.
Deep-Set Farm has a different variety of plants to sell such as arugula. Pederson said they have been coming to the farmer’s market since it began this May, and have enjoyed the business.
“We try to grow unique things, like strange greens and stuff that people usually won’t see too often,” she said.
If that’s not appealing, several youngsters were hovering around the food stands. One admitted she goes for the cookies.
“They’re really good,” she said.
The market is open from 6 a.m. to noon each Wednesday through October.