History of Jackson County Farmers Market

This history of JCFM is adapted from Cooperative Extension Agent Christy Bredenkamp’s notes.  

The founding members of Jackson County Farmers Market were Karen and Johnny White along with Christy Bredenkamp NCSU Extension Agent. Karen White, WCU Nutritionist, sent out a memo about the need for a farmers market in the area.  She took the lead as Market Manager from 2000 to until early 2007.  Bredenkamp found an old letter and old flyer in one of her cabinet drawers indicating the market started in September 2000 at the location where the market currently resides in downtown Sylva off of Back St (Mill Street).

Within that same first year, vendors consisted of the Whites, Christy Bredenkamp, the Arps, John Beckman, Steve Whyman, and a few others, including nursery plant vendors. In 2001, Jim Sellers, Neil Dawson, and others would bring in truckloads of apples, watermelon, corn etc. Later in 2001, Cathy Calabrese, Thomas Crowe, Aquilla Greene, and more vendors joined them.  The Arps shared some of the market responsibilities in that first year.

In the beginning 5 years, the number of vendors averaged between 5 and 10 booths.  In the beginning years, there were no guidelines but the prevalent rule was that you only sold what you grew.  Also, there were no vendor fees but they did have a collection basket for vendors to contribute whatever they felt lead to. In 2009, the vendor fee was $15.00 and in 2013, it was $90.00.

By the end of 2004, Cooperative Extension faded out and let Karen White and the vendors take ownership of the market.  Around 2007 through 2010 Susannah Patty become the first official Market Manager.  Either Susannah Patty or Jenny McPherson developed the first set of written guidelines and application.  The Jackson County Farmers Market logo was developed while Susannah Patty was the market manager.

In 2010 or 2011 Jenny McPherson became the new market manager.   The average number of vendors in these later years was between 20-32 vendors depending on the month.  A winter market began on Saturdays first at the Methodist church in 2011 and is now currently held at The Community Table building at 23 Central Street, just across Scott’s Creek from the outdoor market.

A board of Directors was established under Jenny’s and her advisers care.  The Jackson County Farmers Market was incorporated in late 2012.  Also, the market began to accept SNAP/EBT in 2013, which drives a farmer to crafter ratio of 60% to 40%.

After diligently working for four years on developing the market, Jenny McPherson stepped down in 2016.  Yvonne Scott took over at that point until her job caused her to transfer from the area in March 2017.  Lisa McBride, the current market manager, took over.  In 2018, the Jackson County Farmers Market is adding a Wednesday evening market to allow more opportunities to the community for buying local food.

A special thanks to the hard work and dedication that they gave to the development of support of the market.

Jennie Ashlock

Ron and Cathy Arps of Vegenui Garden

Location 110 Railroad Avenue, Sylva, NC 28779 Phone 828-393-5236 E-mail jacksoncountyfarmersmarket@gmail.com Hours Feb - March Saturdays 10a-1p * April - October Wednesdays 3:30p-6:30p & Saturdays 9a-noon * Nov - Dec Saturdays 10a-1p
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