The Farmers Market is about halfway through its fourth season at UT, but that has not slowed down patrons and vendors from attending for a variety of reasons.
About 25 vendors come from within UT and around the Knoxville community to sell their produce and other goods, come rain or shine. There is a wide variety of goods sold at the market, including home-made soap, granola, fruits, herbal teas, vegetables and baked goods.
The market, which takes place every Wednesday at the UT Gardens off of Neyland Drive, runs from May 15 to Oct. 23.
There are several other Farmers Markets in Knoxville, including one downtown in Market Square, but the vendors at the UT market said there is something that sets it apart.
"It is a smaller market, but it has such a good vibe. We've got a good mix of students, staff and regular folk," said Melanie Wheeler, owner of VG's Bakery, which is known for its "hand pies" and savory biscuits.
"I like this market too because this is the destination. You go to Market Square and you might be going down there for a restaurant or something, but here the market is what people come for," Wheeler said.
The vendors at the Farmers Market vary in age and background, from UT students to farmers in their late 70's, but every person is committed to producing healthy, locally-grown products. And that means organic, non-GMO food, with no additives or preservatives.
"You should never eat anything unless you know exactly what it is," Dr. Carole Cox said, who runs the Brewers Mushrooms booth. She claims her mushrooms help combat disease and enhance the immune system.
Several booths are run by student interns, selling honey products from bee labs on campus, plants from the UT greenhouses and produce from a farm run exclusively by UT students.
Manny Deleon, rising senior in environmental soil science, said growing his own food and working at the Farmers Market has taught him about where exactly his food comes from.
"You learn what the books tell you, but then you actually learn from hands-on experience things that the books can't possibly show you," he said while standing in front of the tables overflowing with beans, potatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes and squash from the acre of farmland run by three UT students.
There is entertainment, programs for children and demonstrations going on every week, including "Tomato Fest," an event that took place last week in celebration of the tomato crop.
Recently, a service project called "Grow More, Give More" was introduced in conjunction with the UT farmers market by the Institute of Agriculture. UT Market Manager, Becca Harman, said the program was started as an effort to combat hunger in Knoxville, where an estimated 840,000 people go hungry each year.
"We just ask for donations of fresh produce from anyone who has extra or is willing to buy some specifically for this purpose. It's really important that the food we are giving away is healthy and nutritious," Harman said.
The food is distributed to local charitable organizations and donations for can be brought to the drop-off locations on the Agriculture campus or to the Farmers Market every Wednesday.
Customers of all ages are welcome to explore and join the community of neighbors helping neighbors.
"It's all about relationships," said Harman. "People come to the market because they want to know who is making their bread and growing their tomatoes. People think financially they can get a better deal here and also they're supporting their neighbors, but mostly it's about forming those relationships."
The UT Farmer's Market runs every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the UT Gardens off of Neyland Drive.