The Olde Greene County Farmers Exchange officially returned to Fox Park for this year’s season on Friday with a selection of local crafts and fresh produce that organizers said will grow as the season continues.
“This is our first day back, but people start coming according to our seasons, just whenever their produce comes in and they’re ready,” said Cindy Hampton of Hampton Farm, located in Greene County’s portion of Bulls Gap. “Everything is local, grown or made here by local farmers and craftsmen. A lot of our farms are no spray.”
Hampton organizes the Farmers Exchange and is also a vendor of fresh, farm-grown produce.
“I grow beans, onions, tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, Indian corn, pumpkins, gourds and grapes. There’s like six different kinds of beans, and I also sell jams and jellies when I make it,” she said, adding that that isn’t all.
Not all of her produce is in season yet, but on Friday she had several customers.
“She has the best tomatoes and cucumbers. My kids love them,” said Kevin Laux.
Hampton said Laux, a repeat customer from previous years, makes a delicious salsa with the fresh ingredients.
Jerry Ottinger said he also came to get some vegetables.
“They’ve always got good Greene County vegetables. I’ve stopped here on a lot of Fridays over the past two or three years at least,” Ottinger said.
“Most of mine isn’t in yet, but I should have tomatoes and hopefully some beans, watermelon and cantaloupe,” said longtime local farmer Tommy Southerland. Southerland said he was among the first to join the Farmers Exchange years ago, when he said it used to be located near the Federal Courthouse.
Next to Southerland on Friday, farmer David Beth offered produce as well as houseplants.
In addition to the produce, shoppers can find other local goods. On Friday those goods included functional pottery and ceramics made by Washington College Academy instructor Reed Hood and woodworking by longtime local woodworker from Union Temple Dean Payne and his cousin Letitia Ebmeyer, and more.
“He’s done this his whole life, and now he’s teaching me. His eyes just don’t allow him to do it anymore, so I’m his hands,” said Ebmeyer. “This is my first anything, and we’ve been getting ideas.”
Ebmeyer said she has learned much from Payne and looks forward to continuing to create handmade pieces to sell at the Farmers Exchange.
“She’s still got ten fingers,” Payne joked.
Because the Farmers Exchange’s season depends entirely on the growing season, which is impacted by weather-related factors, Hampton said there is not a set end to the season.
“A light frost won’t hurt a lot of things, and you can pick and store things to sell, so depending on the weather, we go until Thanksgiving sometimes,” she said.
Located on the corner of East McKee and Main streets, across the intersection from the Greeneville-Greene County History Museum, the Olde Greene County Farmers Exchange is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays until the season wraps up. Vendor fees support the museum.