As Thanksgiving approaches, we begin to reflect on the previous year and gather around us those for whom we are grateful. Holiday meals remind us of the central, essential common ground that brings and binds folks together. This common ground becomes more tangible and taste-able when we source those meals directly from local food producers and the land that we share.
Fall temperatures at open air markets lend authenticity to the seasonal rituals of shopping, cooking, and baking. Autumnal flavors and fragrances linger like the customers who’ve made their purchases, but stay for the conversation and community. Live music accentuates a feeling of festivity. Local harvests at a farmers market remind us through a holistic sensory experience of the bountiful nature of our southeastern foodshed.
Greenhouses and high tunnels provide cultivators with the ability to extend the growing season beyond the typical range of this region, so the veggies that can be acquired at market may surprise you. Main dishes like turkeys and roasts, as well as vegetarian entrées that spotlight baking pumpkins and squash such as acorn or butternut are plentiful this time of year. Moreover, greens great for hearty salads or slow cooked stews tolerate these cooler months well, as do root vegetables such as potatoes, beets, and carrots that present a colorful medley with a caramelized sweetness when combined and roasted. Other fall favorites like apples and sweet potatoes can be locally sourced too, a treat on their own, but also bake deliciously into pies, muffins, casseroles, and more. At a nearby market, you might even discover certain specialty items such as chestnuts or hazelnuts.
Locally handmade decorations and gifts are also abundant at market this time of year. Wreaths, pottery, textiles, and body products are all widely available. Markets carry a treasure trove of wooden utensils, spun wool, hand knit scarves, soaps and skin care creams or balms. These items are crafted by the same hardworking hands that cultivate or forage the materials used in their production. These skilled farmers harvest the vines, grow the herbs, and tend the herds that provide the raw materials for these artisanal products. Adorn your mantle or front door with handmade, rustic décor, serve your guests on a local potter’s or woodworker’s craft, bring a taste of home with you when traveling to visit family or friends for this holiday feast.
Whether what you seek are basic recipe ingredients, table centerpieces, or hostess gifts, a local farmers market offers an array of unique and diverse options.
~Farmers Markets Winter Hours~
Brainerd Farmers Market: Saturdays, 11a-12p
Chattanooga Market: Holiday Market: Saturdays & Sundays, December 3rd-18th
Lookout Farmers Market Red Bank: Mondays, 3-5:30p, Holiday Festival: December 12th
Lookout Farmers Market East Brainerd/Audubon Acres: Tuesdays, 3-5:30p, Holiday Festival: December 13th
Main Street Farmers Market: Wednesdays 4-5p; Thanksgiving week: Tuesday 4-5p
Mentone Farmers Market: Saturdays 10a-1p
Nutrition World: Saturdays, 11a-1p
Ooltewah Farmers Market: Thursdays, 3-5p
Signal Mountain Farmers Market: Thursdays, 4-5:30p
St. Alban's Hixson Market: Saturdays, 9:30a-12:30p, closed Thanksgiving & Christmas weekends,
annual Holly Jolly Market: December 10th