A taste of the good life
Jun 11, 2013 | 397 views | 0 0 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A sure sign of the long-awaited approach of summer is the annual opening of the Farmers Market, the beloved connection between a hometown and its field of agrarians.

In our Cleveland and Bradley County community, we are uniquely fortunate to host three such signs. Yes, here our Deep South taste bud and our love for country cooking enjoy the flavor of not just one, but three Farmers Markets.

Whether Cleveland kitchens prefer their fresh produce from this local market or that hometown hot spot is hardly the point. And sometimes it’s simply a matter of logistics, time of day or day of the week as to when folks enjoy restocking their refrigerators and re-lining their pantries with the region’s homegrown delights.

The point is, unlike most communities our size, we have three Farmers Markets from which to choose.

Most area residents already know them by heart — er, by stomach — but we’ll list them anyway for the benefit of newcomers and visitors, and as a refresher course in all that is wonderful about rural America and our agricultural way of life.

In our community, the established Farmers Markets that are stocked by public vendors include:

- Bradley County Farmers Market, the original food-growers’ bazaar located on Peerless Road which is operated by the Bradley County UT Agricultural Extension Service; its operation is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It is now open for the summer.

- Bradley County Farmers Market North, located on Urbane Road near the senior center and the recreational sports complex; it opens daily at 7 a.m. and is operating every day except Sunday. It is now open for the summer.

- MainStreet Cleveland Five Points Market located in the First Street Square and operated by MainStreet Cleveland. It operates on Thursdays beginning at 4 p.m. It is now open for the summer.

Any community worth its salt and all who relish the feel of hometown — as we do in Cleveland — should have a Farmers Market.

It’s an integral part of life in the South.

It’s a tradition, one steeped in family legacy and founded as much on need as appetite.

It’s a viable way to keep homegrown produce on the kitchen table.

It’s a relevant outreach that keeps farming alive and agriculture close to our hearts.

It’s a source of income for those who live off the land.

It’s a chance for saving for any whose household budgets must balance the cost of food with that of medicine, mortgage and home maintenance.

It’s a social gathering for old friends and distant neighbors whose farmer’s tans tell stories of hard work and long days in the sun.

It’s a small slice of American pie with just the right seasoning.

Of course, we can think of the more obvious benefits to the Farmers Market and reasons to visit. Let’s see. Just a few might include:

Homegrown tomatoes, fried green tomatoes and canned tomato juice.

Mouth-watering cucumbers and their pickled offspring.

Squash casserole.

Fried okra.

Beans, peas and all hybrids thereof.

Watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydews and other members of the melon family.

Fresh fruits.

Home-baked bread, cakes and pies, and other aromatic delights from Grandma’s oven.

Beautiful flowers.

Arts and crafts.

And just about anything else that can warm the tummy, tickle the fancy or please the eye.

In Cleveland, no one should lack for fresh vegetables. They are here and they can be found on Peerless Road, Urbane Road and downtown’s First Street Square.

We recommend a visit to one, two or more likely all three.

A Farmers Market is life in the slow lane of home cookin’ and good eatin’.

To quote Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, it is indeed another reason that “... Bradley County is Tennessee at its best.”