The Highland Farmers’ Market Returns for 21st Season


The gardening season is upon us, and that also means that it’s farmers’ market season.  Mary-Ellen Garner is this year’s market manager for the Highland Farmers’ Market in Monterey, Virginia, and she has more on what’s going and growing on.  “We’re really excited for our 21st season of the market with twenty-two days of market this year, and it’ll run through Hands and Harvest, which is October 12th and 13th,” says Mary-Ellen.  “The season will start this Friday, May 25th.  We’re really excited for the first market because it’s kind of the kickoff of summer, and our theme is ‘Seeds and Starts,’ and that’ll be 3:30 to 6:00 p.m.  So it’s in collaboration with The Highland County Seed Library, so there’ll be free seeds available for anyone at the market, and we’re also going to highlight starts, so we were encouraging vendors to bring any extra starts they might have for people to purchase for their personal garden.  In addition, we’ll be having a potluck immediately to follow the market around 6:00 p.m., and we encourage people to bring a dish to share, maybe a blanket and some lawn games.”

The potluck will also provide the community an opportunity to meet this year’s group of Allegheny Mountain Institute Fellows, as well as to hear local music artists, Mike Bedwell and Ben Witman.  The public is also invited to bring instruments to play during or after the market.  Mary-Ellen continues with information on the connection between the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the market.  She continues, “As in past years, we will be accepting SNAP benefits, and we do accept the two-for-one, the doubling, essentially, of your SNAP benefits, so that means if you cash in five dollars using your EBT card, that will get you a value of ten dollars in product at the market, so we highly encourage SNAP users to come out, and for more details about cashing in on your SNAP benefits, you can contact The Department of Social Services, where they have a wonderful flyer with pricing and more details, or you can call me at The Highland Center, 540-468-1922, or contact me by email,”

Mary-Ellen also says that she hopes this year will be more of an interactive market that will include tastings and even rotisserie chicken.  She explains why the market is relevant to the area:  “I think the Farmers’ Market has always been a really important part of this community as just a general meeting space for people to come together after a week and enjoy company and time spent together, as well as an opportunity to support our neighbors, our local farmers, and, you know, the people in our community and vote with our dollar on what we think should be purchased.  In general, at the Farmers’ Market, we always have lots of fresh, local produce, baked goods and local meats.  Normally, we have chicken, beef, and lamb and sometimes trout.  We also regularly have craft vendors from the local areas, and they’ll bring knitted products, hand-sewn products, and other bath and body products.  If you’re not already on our newsletter, you can sign up at where you can get updates on who will actually be attending each market as far as vendors go and what they’ll be bringing to the market.”

Interested parties can still become vendors by contacting Mary-Ellen Garner at The Highland Center.

Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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