Favorite Finds at the Winter Farmers Market in Franklin

As much as I love a Tennessee winter, it’s tough when the temperatures plummet, and I have to say goodbye to the bounty of local fruits and vegetables sold at neighborhood markets and road stands. Fortunately, thanks to the Franklin Farmers Market, I don’t have to.

The Winter Market is open each Saturday morning at The Factory. We checked it out on a recent weekend morning and found a surprising number of bundled-up vendors selling everything from piping hot donuts and steaming fruit cobblers to crisp winter apples and exotic varieties of mushrooms.

“Even in the middle of winter, there are still all kinds of wonderful things to be had here,” confirmed Lucy Rizzo, owner of Lucy’s Kitchen. “Artisan baked goods, wonderful meat vendors, and even vegetables. They’ve got kale, sweet potatoes, and baby greens that you can grow during the wintertime.”

Although the Winter Market is cozier and more condensed during the cold weather months, plenty of customers brave the chill to stock up for the week on Tennessee treats — Lucy had already sold out of her beloved Organic Coconut Thai Soup well before the market closed.

A few tables down, we couldn’t resist stopping for a chat with the gregarious Geraldine Bell of Geraldine’s Greatest Chess Pies, who bakes what she promises are the best chess pies in Tennessee and — ‘probably’ — the world.

The original recipe comes from her grandmother, but Geraldine has added two special ingredients, which she was happy to share with us: “First of all, God,” she revealed, “and then love.”

Geraldine bakes her pies in small batches throughout the week, which means the pie is on her mind 24-7. “Sometimes in the middle of the night, I’ll be like ‘I’ve gotta cut that oven off.’ And then I’m like, ‘Girl; you’re asleep.’” Now that’s devotion!

Not all the Winter Market’s delights are edible. Miniature barns, homes, and churches fill the shelves and tables surrounding Philip Crews. He’s a self-taught folk artist who helped a carpenter build homes back when he was a teenager. “I just always liked working with wood,” he told us. “I’d pick up a piece of wood and try to do something with it, even when I was eight or nine years old.”

Today, Philip uses that knowledge to create intricate, scaled-down masterpieces of structures that have inspired him over the years.  “A lot of things I just see somewhere and later it’ll be in my mind,” he said, showing us a replica of a barn he remembers playing in as a child.

Philip will custom-build a structure from his customers’ photos, and we thought his prices were surprisingly reasonable. I honestly can’t think of a more unique and thoughtful gift than surprising a loved one with an exquisitely-wrought replica of a beloved childhood home, church, or family store.

Franklin’s Winter Market is open from 9 a.m. until noon each Saturday morning. Other vendors include Bloomsbury Farm, Rose Creek Farms, Ellie’s Old Fashioned Donuts, Noble Springs Dairy, Bear Creek Farm, Jones Mill Farm, Wild Alaska Salmon and Seafood, Beaverdam Creek Farm, MoonShadow Farm, the Califarmia Food Truck, Hatcher Family Dairy, Kelley’s Berry Farm, Johnson’s Honey Farm, Norton Family Farm, Flying S Farms, Jay’s Chicago, Juice Nashville, and more.

You can read all about the market’s farmers and vendors on the Franklin Farmers Market website. Grab your winter weather gear and get out there this Saturday!

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