JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - It's the time of year for farmers and shoppers alike to head to the market. News 5 learned that with a swipe of a card, people who receive SNAP benefits can now buy fresh food at the Johnson City Farmer's Market.
Saturday is opening day the at Johnson City Farmer's Market just off State of Franklin Road. "I want to get me some fresh green beans, squash, and tomatoes. I'm going to cook me an Easter dinner tomorrow," said shopper Wayne Radden, one of more than a thousand market-goers who passed through the tents in search of some the area's freshest goods.
Radden tells News 5 he uses supplemental nutrition assistance, or SNAP benefits, to buy most of his groceries. On Saturday he discovered that not only does his EBT card work at the supermarket, it now works at the farmer's market. "I was thinking that somebody down here would be able to take EBT. So I found this place here and they turned them into my tokens, so I can do my shopping here instead of having to go the store," said Radden.
Dale and Rebecca Myers own R & D Farms; they sell eggs and meat at the farmer's market. "You're getting local products that are raised humanly and safely in much better ways than production farming. Buying local from local farmers, I think it is the best way to support your community," said Dale Myers.
Dale and Rebecca are one of about 20 vendors selling things like donuts, crafts, fruits, and vegetables. They tell us the farmer's market experience is not just about making a profit for them. "We barter and we buy some of our fresh produce here, so sometimes it's a lot of exchange for us. I don't know that we make a ton of money, but we love getting that good meat to people because it just tastes amazing," said Rebecca Myers.
This will be first full season the Johnson City Farmer's Market accepts EBT card transactions.
Organizers tells us getting the program up and running has been the works for a while. Now that the program is ready, it will provide those who use SNAP benefits with more healthy options.
The Johnson City Farmer's Market will last through mid-December.