WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Farmers Market recently announced that the market will begin accepting applications from produce vendors from bordering counties for the 2016 market season.

The adjacent areas include Alleghany County, Wilkes County, Watauga County, Johnson County, Tenn., and Grayson County, Va.

The expansion to other counties is limited to only producers growing edible farm goods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, cheese and other value added foods and does not include arts and crafts, according to market officials.

Producers and growers from adjoining counties may now apply for membership for the upcoming market season.

The products eligible for sales at the ACFM must be grown or produced by the vendor named on the application in one of the eligible counties and are subject to spot check by the market manager or a member of the board of directors, according to market officials. The ACFM reserves the right to approve or deny any application for any reason.

In years past, market membership was limited to Ashe County residents only. During the past few years, the market has witnessed a decline in the number of produce vendors as farmers retire, a problem being faced on a national scale, officials said. In order for the market to remain vibrant and to ensure ample supplies of the produce and other items market-goers seek, a decision was made by the board of directors in March to open the market to adjoining counties.

ACFM board president Suzanne Joyner said, “We want to grow our market to ensure we meet the needs of our customers and to ensure that the market remains strong, viable and self-supporting. In order to do that, we need more vendors.”

Membership applications and vendor forms may be downloaded from the ACFM website at www.ashefarmersmarket.com.

The Ashe County Farmers Market opens for the 2016 season at 8 a.m. April 16.

For more information contact Market Manager Lori Goodman at ashe.county.farmers.market@gmail.com or (336) 877-5052.

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