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Sold-out ‘Farm to Table’ dinner set for Aug. 24

“Farm to Table” may be becoming the most popular meal in Jonesborough.
The annual outdoor dinner, now in its third year, is set to be held Saturday, Aug. 24, in front of the downtown courthouse on Main Street. It will once again feature fresh-from-the-farm produce served within the ambience of historic Jonesborough.
But what makes the dinner really perfect is that the fundraiser for the Jonesborough Farmers Market is a hit once again, even before that first fork is lifted.
This year, said Karen Childress, farmers market director, tickets to the dinner sold out in less than 30 minutes.
“The dinner is a showcase for the farmers market and quality food,” Childress said. “It’s exciting to have it so well received.”
It’s also exciting, said co-founder Curtis Buchanan, to see the market and its ideals continue to grow and flourish, as evidenced not only by the thriving market and popular Farm to Table dinner, but also in the plans in the works to open a year-round store downtownn.
“We’re just thrilled to death,” Buchanan said. “When we started this thing, it was like, ‘How do you do this?’ We just had five or six vendors in the beginning. And with the first Farm to Table dinner, it took us all the way close to the dinner to sell 100 tickets. Now we’ve expanded to 200, and they sell immediately.”
That doesn’t mean it’s been a fast ride to success, or that downtown is currently bursting with every produce item imaginable. Market creators said they had a greater purpose in mind,
“We’ve grown slow because we’ve had very strict rules and we enforce them,” Buchanan said. “It’s called farmers market and that’s what it ought to be. It’s pretty simple.”
So food is sold by the farmers who grew or raised it. Bread is offered by the baker. And crafts are sold by the artists who shaped them.
“The demand keeps growing,” Buchanan said. “One thing our customers are finding is consistent is the freshness and the quality, plus they know the money is going to local farmers.”
The interest in freshness is what prompted Childress, Buchanan and other farmers market promoters to begin looking at the old Exxon station on Boone Street as a possible site of a year-round market for seekers of local fare. While there are still many details to work out, the idea is continuing to move forward, with a possible opening in 2014.
“The (Board of Mayor and Aldermen) has approved the concept of working with the farmers market on this,” said Bob Browning, town administrator. “We don’t have a specific agreement in hand yet. Once we have all the details in, we will look at what may need to be done to the building, in addition to possible grant applications to support a year-round market.”
The next step, Buchanan said, is for the Farmers Market Board to make a presentation to the BMA, possibly in October.
“We’re working on getting a lot of things organized first, including organizational status, business plan and vendor qualifications,” he said. “Right now its just a proposed idea, but we’re very encouraged by the town’s support.”
The market store would give customers the opportunity to pick up locally raised and created products throughout the week and year, rather than just on Saturdays.
But for now, the Farm to Table Dinner is stealing the spotlight as diners get ready to experience all the best Jonesborough’s Farmers Market has to offer.
Thanks to expertise provided by Herman and Beverly Jenkins of Main Street Cafe, and Breelyn and Alex Bomba, of Bomba’s restaurant, the dinner promises some of the best dining to be found, according organizers.
“We couldn’t have done this dinner without them,” Childress said.
While the tickets may be gone, local food lovers shouldn’t feel shortchanged. The fresh foods gracing the table on Aug, 24 are the same fresh foods that can be found in each Saturday’s market.
— Lisa Whaley is a free-lance writer contracted by the Town of Jonesborough to write “Talk of the Town.” Have a suggestion for a column topic? Call Town Hall at 753-1031 or e-mail [email protected]