KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Rain did not stop the Tennesse Deputy Agriculture Commissioner from touring the Kingsport Farmers Market Saturday morning and speaking with local producers.

Like any Saturday morning between April and October, the Kingsport Farmer’s Market was bustling with people buying and selling local produce and goods, and even the rain didn’t stop citizens from pulling him aside for a chat.

“We’re really feeding the community so we’re feeding the nation. So having somebody come by and listen to what our concerns are and do something about them. I mean, you can’t put a price on that,” said Amy Venable, owner of Little Mountain Microgreens in Colonial Heights.

Kingsport Mayor Pat Shull presented Aiken with a basket of goodies to take to Nashville.

“When you wear this Kingsport Farmer’s Market T-shirt in the governor’s staff meeting, he’ll know where you’ve been!” he said to Aiken.

Shull proudly toured parts of his town’s farmers market with the deputy commissioner.

“Agriculture is the number one industry in Tennessee, so it’s of the foremost importance and we appreciate what the state does to promote it,” Shull said.

Aiken said he hoped to promote his trade.

“We have a great program that’s been in place here in Tennessee for a number of years, Pick Tennessee Products, which is an effort to promote anything grown in Tennessee. I certainly hope our folks are taking advantage of that,” he said.

Venable is a local producer who participates in the program, but she hopes the state could help smaller local producers like herself.

“Having somebody who has some pull is always great you know, it’s always a great thing for a farmer to be able to talk to somebody who has the, you know, the power in the position to make a difference,” she said.

Little Mountain Microgreens is an urban-style farm.

“Most of what I do is inside, I do grow edible flowers too that are outside but we also do a lot of value-added stuff like mushrooms along with the microgreens and the edible flowers, and then we make a lot of hummus and Pico and jellies,’ Venable said.

Aiken listened to concerns from producers like Venable when visiting the market Saturday.

“I’m here to listen. You know, I think that’s one of the critical things that the department should be doing that the state government should be doing is listening to the concerns and challenges that our folks are facing and hopefully, whether I can give them a solution or not – we can at least take it back and address it and begin to work to find solutions,” he said.

He hoped to learn how to best promote the production of these local goods.

“The Department of Agriculture actually has multiple missions but one is to promote Tennessee agriculture and I know no better way to do that than to be here at the farmers market,” he said.

As Shull said, Aiken agreed that agriculture is of the utmost importance to modern life.

“Agriculture makes life possible. There was an old bumper sticker one time that says ‘if you eat, you’re involved in agriculture,’ and I’m just it’s so encouraging to see folks here this morning supporting local farmers and I think that’s critically important that we continue to do that,” he said.

To learn more about the Pick Tennessee Products initiative, CLICK HERE.