Farm Fresh: Four Chattanooga Farmers Markets

Farmers markets in Chattanooga are producers-only, meaning all the fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy products, breads, greens, and flowers are produced by the vendors themselves, by an employee, or by another member of their household. Nothing on site is resale. With locations convenient to downtown Chattanooga and east Chattanooga, farmers markets in the Scenic City are a hub for farm fresh goods and community connection every month of the year.

fresh tomatoes and peppers and other produce at a farmers market

Chattanooga Market & Collegedale Market

Sundays, April through November (Chattanooga)

Sundays, April through October (Collegedale)

 

When they teamed up to buy Chattanooga Market fifteen years ago, Chris Thomas was in the record label business and Melissa Lail was a stay-at-home mom with experience in marketing and advertising. The Market was listed in the classifieds section of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Thomas and Lail were long-time friends, and they were up for the challenge. They filed for 501c3 status, and by 2020, Public Markets, Inc. had become such a staple in the Scenic City that they had 15 full-time employees and another 15 seasonal employees. Vendor sales have climbed to nearly $3 million per year in recent years. Thomas, the executive director, and Lail, the director of marketing and public relations, rotate 1,500 vendors between three different markets – Chattanooga Market at First Horizon Pavilion; Collegedale Market in east Chattanooga; and River Market at the Tennessee Aquarium Plaza, which is not a farmers market, but an arts and crafts festival with live music and food trucks. 

 

The largest of the three, Chattanooga Market is open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at First Horizon Pavilion downtown and includes goods from farms, arts and crafts vendors, and food artisans. Food trucks are often on site, and live music will resume on Market Sundays this summer. Chattanooga Market veteran vendors, who have participated for the past 15 years, include Daylilies, LLC, Hazelrig Orchards, and Signal Mountain Farms. In addition to the beautiful spread of flowers, produce, breads, meats, and cheeses available each week, one of Chattanooga Market’s biggest draws is the themed Sundays throughout the season. Tennessee Farm Winegrowers will host the Sip TN Wine Festival on site on June 5, 2021; the Top Tomato Festival and Bloody Mary Tasting will take place on July 18, 2021; and FiveStar Food Fight will pit local chefs against each other with Market ingredients at live cooking stations on August 15, 2021. 



fresh eggplant and peppers and vegetables at a farmers market

The Collegedale Market, Lail says, is a scaled-back hometown version of the Chattanooga Market that services the East Hamilton County area. You’ll find fresh produce, artisan foods, and arts and crafts vendors unique to the Collegedale location as well as those who make an appearance downtown as well. Open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Collegedale Commons, part of what’s unique about this location is the accessibility to Wolftever Creek Greenway walking trails, a large playground, and Veteran’s Memorial Park. 

 

Both farmers markets accept EBT cards and SNAP benefits in addition to cash and credit cards. 

fresh strawberries at a farmers market

Main Street Farmers Market

Wednesdays, Year-Round

 

Founded in 2009 on the concept that relationships in the local food community are what inspires healthy, environmentally-conscious lifestyles, Main Street Farmers Market gives regional farmers a place to provide locally-grown products to Chattanooga consumers. Here, you’ll find fresh berries, tomatoes, grass-fed beef, organic microgreens, organic flour and cornmeal, free range eggs, breads, chocolates, kombucha and apple cider, and canned goods, among other things. Vendors include Tant Hill Farm of LaFayette, Ga.; Southerly Flower Farm of Bledsoe, Tenn.; Dayspring Farm & Pig Mountain of Altamont, Tenn.; Orchard House Creamery of Spencer, Tenn.; and Otter Creek Trout Farm of Nantahala, North Carolina. In order to participate as a vendor, farms must be located within a 100-mile radius of downtown Chattanooga and must be committed to environmentally-friendly farming methods that prioritize the health of the soil, biodiversity, water supplies, and surrounding natural resources. 

 

Located in front of Chattanooga Brewing Company in Chattanooga’s Southside, Main Street Farmers Market shuts down Chestnut Street between Main Street and 20th Street (in front of the brewery) every Wednesday afternoon. Regulations require that the farmers represented have their hands in all parts of production. For example, labor related to crops – tilling, cultivating, harvesting – are controlled and supervised by the vendors themselves.

fresh squash and bell peppers at a farmers market

Ooltewah Farmers Market

Thursdays, Year-Round

 

An independent market hosted by Ooltewah Nursery and Landscape, Ooltewah Farmers Market is the place to find free-range and pastured chicken eggs, raw honey, jams and jellies, elderberry products, raw dairy products, pastured meats, gourmet mushrooms, and fresh and dried herbs. Local food artisans who source their ingredients locally are also on site with kettle corn, hand-crafted chocolates, kombucha, breads, and goat milk lotions and soaps. Located approximately 30 minutes east of downtown Chattanooga, Ooltewah Farmers Market is open from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. April through October (summer hours) and 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. November through March (winter hours). New to the market this year is Green Shanty Farmstead and Thousand Hills Family Farm. Thousand Hills Family Farm is owned by Wesley and Denise Skelton, who own 225 acres in Cleveland, Tennessee, that have been in their family for more than a century. The Skeltons’ market offerings include grass-fed and grass-finished ground beef and other beef cuts as well as pasture-raised, non-GMO chicken eggs. Returning market favorites for this year include raw honey from Country Garden Apiary, blue oyster and snow white oyster mushrooms from 2 Angels Mushroom Farms, and raw cow milk and fresh cream from the Jersey cows at Sagetown Dairy.

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