Rebranded market on 7th Avenue enters second year
“The Hendersonville Farmers Market reflects the great community of Hendersonville,” says Market Manager Meredith Friedheim. Besides fresh produce, meats, honey, eggs, and other farm products sourced locally, the outdoor event also showcases a variety of handmade crafts and a great lineup of food trucks.
“We have everything,” Friedheim says, “from authentic Mexican and American soul food to Greek, and a variety of fresh baked goods, including gluten-free and vegan options.” The 25 or so vendors hail from within a 60-mile radius, and local musicians play every Saturday in front of the Historic Train Depot. “We’re adding music at the other end of the market, too,” reports Friedheim, “as well as a special kids’ zone.”
Freshly branded a year ago and reopened for the 2021 season on Mother’s Day weekend, the market represents a collaboration between the city and the nonprofit Friends of Downtown, which provides its budget. The location was strategically chosen as part of the ongoing 7th Avenue District’s revitalization effort. While it is not affiliated with the longstanding Hendersonville Tailgate Market, vendors there were invited to transition to the new market and many of them did, says Friedheim.
An innovative feature of the market is its use of payment tokens. As Friedheim explains, “We don’t have an ATM nearby, and not all vendors have credit-card readers — which also require Wi-Fi. So, to make sure that every vendor has equal access to every customer, we use payment tokens.” Visitors go to a centrally located station and purchase the tokens that can then be used to shop anywhere in the market.
That use of tokens also facilitates a generous value-add for customers who pay by EBT card under the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The market is an authorized SNAP/EBT retailer, but also offers a “Double Snap” feature which effectively doubles the purchase power for anyone paying with an EBT card. “If someone buys tokens for $20 with their EBT card, we give them $40 worth of tokens,” explains Friedheim. “It would be impossible to run the program without tokens, because in that case every individual vendor would have to be qualified as a SNAP/EBT retailer.” (The financial support for Double Snap comes from the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, with additional support from the Henderson County Partnership for Health’s Committee for Activity and Nutrition.)
So it’s all about new vendors, new products, and a new reach. However, “the main thing,” says Friedheim, “and the fun part, is that the market is really a community effort. … If someone has an idea they want to do at the market, I’m all ears.”
The Hendersonville Farmers Market happens Saturdays, 8am-1pm, rain or shine, at the Historic Train Depot (650 Maple St.) in downtown Hendersonville’s Seventh Avenue District. Ample free parking is available. For more information, including volunteer, vendor, and sponsorship opportunities, visit: hendersonvillenc.gov/events/hendersonville-farmers-market or see Hendersonville Farmers Market on Facebook.