Market Forecast 

'Tis the season for farmers markets.

The Agricenter Farmers Market will open its season on Saturday, May 1st. Running for more than 25 years, this market reaps all the benefits of its longstanding tradition: a steady number of vendors, a reliable location, and an easy to navigate set-up.

At the market this year is a mix of new and old: seafood from Paradise Seafood, beef from Mathis Creek Farms, Pontotoc Ridge blueberries, nuts from Delta Pecans, and coffee from McCarter's. There also will be breads and baked goods, boiled peanuts, precooked greens, Italian ices, barbecue, and crafts and handmade items.

The Agricenter Farmers Market is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Agricenter Farmers Market, 7777 Walnut Grove (355-1977),

This is the inaugural year for the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market, which kicks off this Saturday in the parking lot of First Congregational Church and runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"We want our market to be representative of the diverse community we reside in," says Robin Rodriguez, chairman of the board for the market. "It's about bringing the community together and removing the anonymity that sometimes exists between people and the source of their food."

The market is founded upon three principles: community gathering and education, greater access to fresh food for underserved neighborhoods, and support for the local farm base. One aspect of bridging the gap between underserved community members and farmers is to set up EBT machines, which Rodriguez expects to be in place by their June 5th market. They'll also team up with the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center and Grow Memphis to develop other ways to draw new people to farmers markets.

It's their first market, so Rodriguez says they plan to start small and add more attractions as the season goes on. For now, they have a solid start with vendors like Downing Hollow Farm (Downing Hollow's Lori Greene spearheaded the Cooper-Young market), West Wind Farms, Delta Sol Farms, and the Original Grit Girl. They'll also have produce from the Evergreen Montessori School, and a tool sharpener who goes by "One Sharp Dude."

Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market, 1000 S. Cooper,

April 17th marked the beginning of the downtown Memphis Farmers Market's season, and according to Maryanne Lessley, the opening celebration was one of the most crowded she's ever seen.

"We had record attendance," she says. "It was fabulous — the most product and greatest number of vendors we've ever started with."

Now is the time for butterhead lettuce, spinach, mesclun, beets, carrots, turnips, greens, bok choy, and baby bok choy. Neola Black Angus beef, Newman Farm pork, Bonnie Blue Farm goat cheese, and baked goods also are available.

Farm fresh eggs were a big hit last year, so the market has added two new egg vendors.

The market is open Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Memphis Farmers Market, Central Station Pavilion (575-0580),

The Memphis Botanic Garden Farmers Market enters its fourth season on April 28th.

"Our whole market is very laid-back and casual," says Jana Gilbertson, market manager. "We wanted to give people the opportunity to connect with people who are growing their own produce and flowers."

One of the vendors, Peace Bee, is particularly connected to the venue, harvesting honey from hives that pollinate the gardens.

Other vendors include Whitton Farms, Groovy Granola, Delta Grind grits, Delta Pecans, Evergreen Farm, Aunt Lizzie's Cheese Straws, Grandma's Desserts, Mama D's Italian Ice, Jones Orchard, and many more.

Vegan vendors are also a big hit with Peace of Cake offering an array of vegan baked treats and OC Vegan selling boxed lunches, salads, breads, cakes, and desserts.

The market is open every Wednesday from 2 to 6 p.m.

Memphis Botanic Garden Farmers Market, 750 Cherry (636-4121),

May 4th is set to be a soft opening for the Collierville Farmers Market, now in its second year. The grand opening will take place on May 25th, closer to the market's full swing. Until then, from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Collierville residents can head to the parking lot just off the Town Square on Washington, where 20 or so vendors will be selling locally grown produce, meat, and dairy items.

"Last year, we were given a space that only allowed for 14 vendors, and people were astounded at how many customers came," says Jennifer Warrillow of the market. "So this year, we've moved to a different section of the same parking area, and we can have up to 30 vendors."

Those signed on to sell at the market include Jones Orchard, Peach World, West Wind Farms, Evergreen Farm, Mammaw Melton's Heirloom Gardens, Wolf River Honey, Sue's Flowers, Oak Hill Farms, and True Vine Farms.

Collierville Farmers Market, 167 Washington,

The Millington Farmers Market makes its debut on May 1st. It will be open Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from noon to 6 p.m. Housing the market is an open-air building with 12 vendor spaces. Eighty percent of the building costs were donated, a good sign of community support.

The market already has six full-season vendors and several part-time vendors signed up. Look for Holt Farm, Marla's Garden, Green Acres Farm, Gray's Veggies, Jones Orchard, McCarter Coffee, and frozen Black Angus beef raised in Covington at Mathis Creek Farms.

Millington Farmers Market, 5152 Easley,

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