Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
When it comes to selling fresh fruits and vegetables, how well the sales go boils down to "location, location, location," according to University of Georgia Clayton County Extension Service Agent Tom Bonnell.
Bonnell said the extension service is moving its fourth annual farmers market from its office on Government Circle, on the northern edge of Jonesboro, to the city's downtown area this year, in an effort to get more exposure, and potentially more customers and vendors.
The market will be located this year in a City of Jonesboro-owned parking lot, across the street from the Jonesboro Fire House Museum and Community Center, at 103 West Mill Street, in Jonesboro.
"It's a better location, on a busy street, in the middle of town," Bonnell said. "I've looked around at other farmers markets that are held around the state, and the ones on the main drag do better than the ones that are more out of the way. The problem we faced when we were holding the market at our office is that we were on Government Circle, and that's off the beaten path."
The farmers market is scheduled to open, for the year, in its new location on Saturday, at 8 a.m. It will run every Saturday, from 8 a.m., to noon, and every Tuesday, from 11 a.m., to 1 p.m., from now until vendors run out of food in their gardens to sell, Bonnell said. He explained that usually lasts until September.
Bonnell said 14 vendors had committed, as of Wednesday, to sell items, ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables, to plants, to bottled honey (made by a local beekeeper), to baked goods on the market's opening day.
He added that he has made a bright yellow, 5-foot tall sign, that will be placed at the corner of West Mill Street, and Main Street, in Jonesboro, to direct people to the market's new location.
Bonnell said he would like to see more people sign up to sell items from their gardens at the farmers market as a result of the move. The vendors participating in the market are local residents, including several members of the Clayton County Master Gardeners, he said. There is no cost for a person to sign up to be a vendor at the market, he added.
"It gives people who grow too much [in their gardens] a venue to sell whatever they have left over," Bonnell said.
Jonesboro City Council member Pat Sebo said she hopes the market's new location, on the edge of a residential area, and only one block away from Jonesboro's Main Street, will draw enough city residents to turn it into another community gathering spot in Jonesboro. Sebo worked with Bonnell and extension service Agent Winston Eason, to bring the farmers market downtown.
"I proposed they move the farmers market to downtown, first and foremost, to give them more visibility, and secondly, and more selfishly, to have something that will bring people into the heart of the city," Sebo said. She later added: "It's a great opportunity for the city to come together ... Over time, I'm hoping word of mouth [amongst city residents] will make it grow."
Sebo said the extension service, as part of the move, will also begin holding occasional gardening classes at the fire house museum, during farmer's market hours. Bonnell said one such class which is getting close to being confirmed so far will be on July 30, and he said it will focus on teaching people how to can their foods, to preserve them.
Call Bonnell, at (770)473-5434, to inquire about being a vendor at the farmer's market.