By ALLEN RAU
Folks driving in downtown Jonesborough in the past week may have noticed some construction at the Boone Street Market.
The work underway is an expansion of the market to accommodate more local products as well as the addition of café seating to allow in-house meals to be served there.
According to Jonesborough Locally Grown Executive Director Shelley Crowe, these additions will benefit local farmers and producers in the area.
“Our priority is to give (our farmers and producers) a place to sell and to promote those products, through events and through our kitchen,” Crowe said.
“That’s the main reason for our kitchen. To promote, to educate people on how to use those products and to be able to enjoy some meals based off the local products.”
Jonesborough Locally Grown is a non-profit organization that manages the Jonesborough Farmers Market and the Boones Street Market.
“Our mission,” Crowe added, “is to connect the farmers, food and the community using the Farmers Market, and the Boones Street Market, which is really considered to be a farmers market, a year-round market where local farmers and producers can sell.”
Final plans for the expansion were brought before the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Alderman during the November meeting.
At that time, Alderman Adam Dickson commented, “Mayor, I do want to say that it’s real exciting on a Saturday to drive through downtown Jonesborough and just to see the bustling activity there on the corner (at Boones Street Market). It’s become a hub, a hub of activity, really good to see. So I’m grateful that we have a relationship with Jonesborough Locally Grown.”
The other members of the BMA agreed, and approval of the plans was given, setting the project in motion.
Half of the funding necessary for the expansion came from a $50,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture while the other half came from private donations.
“We have been very pleased with the support from donors, our members and the community helping to make up the difference,” Crowe said. “So between the TDA and private donations we’ll be able to cover the cost of the expansion.”
Plans for the expansion call for a 10-foot addition to the front of the existing building towards Boone Street. Crowe said the addition will add 30 percent more floor space and that, once finished, the storefront should look similar to the existing front.
“The whole project is estimated to be about four to six weeks, depending on the weather, which would put us into early to mid February when we should be back open.”
Once the construction is completed, more local products and new services will be available.
“(We will) provide more products, display and sale space. We’ll have more prepared meals, in addition to our to-go meals that we’ve done in the past. We won’t be what you think of as a traditional restaurant, but yes, we’ll have some seating so people can come in and have a sandwich or some soup or a daily special and eat there at the store.
“We do have special events with the store, we do fundraisers as special events, but we’ll also have special meals, dinners or special things there at the store.”
Crowe added that some topics were still in discussion and have yet to be finalized.
The store opening times would remain the same Monday through Saturday, but business hours for the dining side had yet to be decided.
And while the store had beer available for retail purchase, the market does not have a license to allow on-premise beer consumption. Crowe said that would need to be worked out.
Although all the details haven’t been decided, Crowe said she believes the expansion of the market will help them in their goal.
“Making sure that we are a source, a place for farmers and local producers to connect to those consumers who want to buy from and support local farms. That’s the most important reason why we’re doing all this. The expansion is also to help the market be sustainable, too. We are a non-profit but we definitely want to make a profit and be sustainable so we can be there for our farmers.”