First Annual Tomato Fest at the Murphy Farmers Market!

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Tomato Fest

Tomato Festival at the Murphy Farmers Market!

The first annual Tomato Fest was held on July 15th, 2023 at the Murphy Farmers Market. The event was planned and sponsored by the newly formed Cherokee Clay Food Alliance, which aims to support local farm markets. Terra Ciotta, Vice President of the Alliance said “One of the (Food Alliance’s) missions is to build a healthier and more robust farmer’s market to support the local food community”.

The Murphy Farmers Market has been gaining traction this year with new vendors, but there has been a big push to reach local farmers in an effort to enhance the produce offered at the Murphy Farmers Market.

Tomato Festival

Tomato Festival brings a crowd to the Murphy Farmers Market

Extension Tent: Ask a Master Gardener

The Entrance Tent held N.C. Cooperative Extension as well as Tomato Taste Testing offered by Jason Ebinger of the J.C. Campbell Folk School

Event Happenings

The market kicked off at 9:00 a.m. with tomato-focused kid events, a mixologist competition, and cooking demonstrations.

  • Terra Ciotta, Executive Chef at the John C. Campbell Folk School with team provided food demonstrations for gazpacho and stuffed tomatoes.
Terra Ciotta Gazpacho Demo
  • N.C. Cooperative Extension Agent and Secretary of the Food Alliance, Marlana Baker served up freshly made Pico De Gallo as well as evidence-based information on how to preserve tomatoes.
Pico De Gallo Food Demonstration

Chevelle’s Restaurant  and EPIC Catering & Eatery both placed in the mixology competition featuring a tomato inspired drink.

Epic wins Drink Contest

Susan Ward, Events coordinator hosting the competition and awarding the prize.

Supporting Local Vendors and Local Food

Herbert “Herb” Clark,  owner of Smokin’ C Ranch, estimated that the festival quadrupled recent market attendance. Clark said “Sales have boosted by at least 25%”. Several vendors reported an estimate of 400 people visiting the market for the festival.

Smokin C Ranch

More vendors echoed the same sentiments as Clark. Alyssa Moreno with SMM Farms reported “(Since) the last time I was here, the sales have picked up…having the variety and the fact that there were so many people here today, sales have been really good”.

SMM Farms

Dillan Johnston, of Dill’s Greens in Andrews, NC, said “I definitely saw an increase in sales. Last week I sold 3 flats of greens and this week I sold my entire inventory (8 flats) by 12:00 p.m.”

Dill's Greens

Upcoming Market Days and Becoming a Vendor

The Murphy Farmers Market is located at the L & N Depot at 4 Railroad Street and is open 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. every Saturday from April to October. Migdalia Joliffe is the Market Manager and she is offering vendors that are bringing locally grown produce, a vendor space free of charge with hopes of  increasing the number of growers at the market this season. If you are interested in becoming a vendor, please email

Make Plans for the Fun with Fruit Kids Event!

Cherokee Clay Food Alliance plans to host another upcoming event at the Murphy Farmers Market on August 19th: Fun with Fruit Day! Mark your calendars and support local food by attending the Murphy Farmers Market!

For more information:

Murphy Farmers Market on Facebook

Cherokee Clay Food Alliance on Facebook