On your mark, get set… and slow down for fall

NASHVILLE—It’s September, and Christmas décor is lining store shelves. You’d think that the seasons are determined by which week school starts, and we’d all be wise to air out our winter coats now.

Amy Tavalin suggests that instead, we should stop the hands of time long enough to take in some local farmers markets this fall. “Fall has it all,” says Tavalin, “so don’t rush it.”

“Don’t skip the very best time of year to visit farmers markets,” says Tavalin, farmers market specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. “From now until the first hard freeze is easily the most abundant season of the year in Tennessee. We have a long growing season, so not only are all of summer’s favorites enjoying a last hurrah, but everything from fresh apples and chrysanthemums to sweet potatoes and Indian corn will be elbowing into farmers market aisles across the state.”

“This has been an especially mild, productive year for Tennessee farmers, and some crops that might in other years have wilted from excessive summer are still going strong. Fresh, local produce will be here until our first hard freeze sometime in October.”

“Larger farmers markets traditionally host all sorts of rootsy, wholesome events on autumn weekends throughout the fall,” says Tavalin. “Pumpkin painting, live music, chili cook-offs and apple themed activities can make a weekend trip to the market feel like a trip to the county fair. Visiting a farmers market is always free of charge, and lugging home a bushel of apples is smarter than throwing out your arm trying to win a stuffed poodle.”

It’s easy to find local farmers markets and get information about their autumn schedules through www.picktnproducts.org and the new “Pick Tennessee” mobile app. The free app is downloadable from both the App Store for Apple products and from Google Play for Android devices and allows users to search by item, like “apples,” by region of the state, season, the farm where they’re produced, or the markets where they’re sold. The mobile app then provides directions to the chosen location through direct GPS mapping.

“Come back to your local farmers market to get all the best of the summer garden plus a first look at all the colorful crops of fall,” says Tavalin.

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