By Michelle Caceres
When A Simpler Place in Time owner Renee Watley applied for a grant through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Market Promotion Program, it was with skepticism that she would receive any money.
So, when she received an email congratulating her on being awarded a $50,000 grant to open the farmers market at the corner of Carr and Boyette Roads, she was flabbergasted.
“The market couldn’t have happened without that money,” said Watley. “If we get rained out, it still allows us to pay rent and cover expenses.”
Opened for a few months, the producer-based market attracts approximately a dozen vendors each week, most of whom are local farmers seeking a way to sell their organically grown crops. A couple vendor spaces are allocated to businesses that sell non-made goods.
“The market provides direct access from producer to consumer that doesn’t happen at the grocery store,” said Watley. “It creates a sense of community and makes a difference when consumers know where their food came from.”
Riverview resident Dina Bozeman said she started becoming more conscious of what she ate after a bout with cancer. Fruits and vegetables are a large part of her diet.
“I had to change my way of eating and now I eat local and organic,” she said.
Bozeman, who visited the market with her 4-year-old granddaughter, loaded her bag with fresh farm eggs, broccoli, honey and even a piece of handmade jewelry.
Peach Pit Farms owners Linda Lewis and her son Jeffrey are thankful for the venue to sell their produce. On any given week they can be seen at the market selling broccoli, cabbage, carrots lettuce, hot peppers, radicchio and loose-leaf lettuce. She will be selling peaches, blueberries and blackberries as soon as they are ripe.
“This is a great place for us to sell our fresh organic produce and for consumers because they know that it was grown right in Lithia,” said Lewis. “This is a win/win for everyone involved.”
Other vendors at the market sell mushrooms, flowers, meat (beef, lamb and chicken) and knife sharpening services. The farmers market is open each Thursday from 4–8 p.m. Ample parking is available. Visit www.asimplerplace.farm or facebook.com/asimplerplaceintime.