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Extension Service farmers market set to return

By Maria Jose Subiria

The Clayton County branch of the University of Georgia Extension Service is bringing its "Clayton County Extension Farmers Market" back for a second season.

The farmers market will begin Saturday, and continue each Saturday and Wednesday through Sept. 19, according to Tom Bonnell, horticulture program assistant at the Extension Service.

The market will be held in the Extension Service's parking lot at 1262 Government Circle, Jonesboro, on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m.

Vendors can sell their items from the back of their car or pickup truck, or they may set up a booth, Bonnell said.

Local farmers and gardeners are expected to be offering and array of home-grown items, such as plants, flowers, trees, honey, baked goods, vegetables, fruits, jellies and herbs.

"This is our second year," said Bonnell. "Last year we did a test on it from June, July and August, every second, and fourth Saturday."

Bonnell said the Extension Service chose Wednesdays for the farmers market this year, because of strong interest among buyers to have the event during the week as well.

"It's a lot of fun. You see a lot of people coming through here," said Bonnell. "If you want local honey, local products, they're going to be right here."

Bonnell said products sold at the market must either be something buyers can plant or consume, and produced in Georgia.

Beverly Lester, a registered nurse at the Clayton County Health Department, said she will be offering products like home-made lotions, soaps and hand sanitizers.

Lester said she developed an interest in making beauty products from herbs and oils when she sought to buy gifts at stores for friends, and could never find anything to her taste.

Lester said she is also a master gardener, and teaches area residents about landscaping and growing specific types of plants and flowers.

Last year's farmers market "was a lot of fun," Lester said. "People were really interested, and I tried to provide something different, and I tried to anticipate things that they might like."

"My experience was wonderful," said Fran Lane, beekeeper assistant for Buster's Bees. "We have doubled our customers, because of the Jonesboro farmers market, and I thank Mr. Tom Bonnell for starting it."

Lane said her husband, Buster Lane, has been a beekeeper for 12 years, and owns 10.37 acres of land, with 25 bee hives. They will be selling unprocessed honey at the farmers market this year, Fran Lane said.

"We have no pesticides in the entire yard, and we sell two different products of honey," said Fran Lane. "We have a one-pound squeezable bee, for $6, and a 1.5-pound glass jar of honey with honey comb, for $10."

Bonnell said the Extension Service will have a booth set up for the master gardeners, where they will be answering questions from local gardeners in the community.

The Extension Service has a total of 33 parking spots available for vendors to park their vehicles, and sell their items, he said.

"We expect a larger turnout on vendors, and a larger turnout on buyers, and great deals all around," he said.

For more information on the market, or to reserve a vendor space, call (770) 473-5434.