For those students who want food options beyond the traditional fast food diet, there is an alternative.

Every Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the University Gardens (located off of Neyland Dr.), students have the opportunity to partake in the University of Tennessee Farmer's Market. The market plays host to approximately twenty vendors from all over East Tennessee. Shopping at the farmer's market offers students the option to buy fresh food, as well as support local businesses.

This market is not the traditional farmer's market.

"There are more than vegetables too — milk, eggs, ice cream, bread, biscotti, pastries, Vietnamese food, salsa, granola, beef, poultry, fresh cut flowers, hand crafted soap, herbal products, plants, and much, much more," said Fiona McAnally, a plant sciences graduate student and the UT Farmer's Market manager.

Upon entering the market, students may be surprised at just how much there is to choose from. In addition to the various fruits, vegetables, pastries, and home-living items, there are also educational and information booths.

This is the second year that University of Tennessee has hosted a farmer's market.

"It has grown in the last year in vendors and in shoppers," Mary Vultaggio of Granola Naturals, who also had a booth at the market last year, said. "Each vendor has a lot of repeat customers, but we also see a lot of new faces."

There weren't too many customers the first day, but once word spread she saw an increase.

"Most of the students didn't realize how much there is to buy," Vultaggio added.

Joseph Davis, a sophomore in plant sciences, came to the market one time last year.

"I lived on a family farm back home, so I'm used to eating fresh fruits and veggies. I understand that things that are fresh taste better than things in the grocery stores," Davis said. "It's also convenient because I live over on Andy Holt this year. I can buy fresh veggies (like squash) to make dinner with."

With several hundred visitors to the market every week, it's obvious that this is a popular shopping destination. And it is not just students who take advantage of these products. There were many community members, including a couple of families, there as well.

One feature that may be appealing to those with small children is children activities area, offering parents the opportunity to drop their kids off and shop in peace. There is also a student parking lot (permit required) with plenty of parking spaces, right next to the entrance to the market.

The University of Tennessee Farmer's Market will close for the season on October 24. For more information, contact utgardens@utk.edu, or call (865) 974-8265, or visit the "UT Farmer's Market" Facebook page.