Today is Thursday, August 24, 2017

Local farmers market fertile ground for new educational program

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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 (UT) 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 Dr. 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 the summer, 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 being 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 apple salad, a refreshing blueberry smoothie, broccoli salad, corn relish salad, cucumber relish, green bean salad, a yummy yogurt peach parfait, a tri-pepper salad that will make you want seconds, summer squash with pasta, sweet potato pancakes, fresh tomato bruschetta and cantaloupe salad.

"We intentionally picked recipes that would be easy to prepare," said Dr. Janie Burney of 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 this summer now until the end of August. The Lebanon Farmers Market is located at 143 South Maple Street.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.

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 can be reached at or (615) 444-9584.

For more information on the Lebanon Farmers Market, please contact Jeff Baines at (615) 444-0825 or via e-mail at The Lebanon Farmers Market is operated by the City of Lebanon.

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