• Laurel Contributor

Highlands Marketplace

by Luke Osteen

When you consider the history of Highlands, you always come back to the story, perhaps apocryphal, about Messrs. Kelsey and Hutchinson pulling out a map and drawing a line from New York to New Orleans and then bisecting that line with one linking Savannah and Chicago.

The point where those two lines met, they reasoned, would be a terrific spot to grow a city, one predicated on agriculture. The climate would be perfect for growing a broad range of crops over a broad range of seasons, tempered by a gentle climate.

Personally, I’ve always believed that there must have been a great deal of alcohol consumed at that long-ago brainstorming session. Doesn’t it sound like an idea that’d be spouted at about Hour-Three of an all-night bender?

But here’s the thing, the fact that makes me admit that maybe I’m the one who’s wrong about all this.

It turns out that Highlands really did turn into an agricultural powerhouse, maybe not on the scale envisioned by Kelsey and Hutchinson, but still enough to hold its own among neighboring communities like Sylva and Franklin and Brevard.

The proof is in Highlands Marketplace, held each Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M.

It’s here you’ll find all of the fruits of the fields and orchards and gardens that ring the community. Every Saturday, there’s a bonanza of produce and honey. These aren’t items trucked in by 18-wheelers, these are fruits and vegetables that the day before were drowsing in the summer sunshine and soaking in the sweet afternoon rain.

And thanks to the seasonal nature of the Marketplace, the selection is always changing, almost kaleidoscopic in its variety.

Historically, Highlands has always nurtured a community of artists and artisans and dreamers. Well, they’re represented at Highlands Marketplace, too. You’ll find arts and crafts and creations that reflect life on the Plateau, items that have found their way into homes far beyond the confines of this little town.

And what’s The Twilight Zone twist to this tale? The bit of real-life resonance that’s usually only found in poorly-researched magazine articles?

All of this goodness, all of the fruits and vegetables and baked goods and the men and women who produce them, they all come together every Saturday at Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park, just one block from Main Street.

That’s right, somewhere, Mr. Kelsey and Mr. Hutchinson are beaming in satisfaction at what their dream has accomplished.

And, I suspect, laughing at me for ever doubting their wisdom.

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