Photo by Curt Yeomans
The opening of the University of Georgia Clayton County Extension Service’s annual farmer’s market on Saturday drew a steady flow of local fresh food enthusiasts to downtown Jonesboro.
Saturday brought Jonesboro resident Arlene McCord an opportunity she has been waiting nearly a year to seize.
McCord found herself standing in the middle of the city’s parking lot on West Mill Street, pouring over several baskets of tomatoes over the weekend. She asked seller Billy Powell about the tomatoes. She wanted to know how long they had grown and when they were picked. Eventually she settled on a couple of tomatoes and a squash, and paid Powell a few dollars for the items.
She and her family were among the throngs who came to downtown Jonesboro this past weekend for the opening of the University of Georgia Clayton County Extension Service’s fifth annual summertime farmer’s market.
“We’ve been waiting for it to open all year,” said McCord, as she clutched her bag of fresh vegetables. “It’s just fun to be here and see all of our friends.”
Organizers of the farmer’s market, which will be open every Saturday and Tuesday until October, categorized its 2012 opening as a success. Extension Service Agent Tom Bonnell said it drew 14 vendors, who sold everything from vegetables grown in their own gardens, to crafts they made by hand.
“This is where you’re going to see some of your local talent because it’s local-grown gardening, and the crafts we have,” he said. “The only rule we made is we didn’t want to turn this into a flea market, so the rule is you either grew it or you made it.”
There was never a big rush on the market on its opening day, but it still drew a steady crowd of approximately a dozen buyers at any given time. Bonnell said that makes it hard to gauge just how many people came by, but the crowds were a melting pot of peoples with no specific gender, age group, or racial group dominating the crowds.
“I wish I had a way to count how many people come through here, but I don’t,” he said. “The only thing I can keep track of is how many vendors I have.”
People who came out for the first day of the market expressed a variety reasons for being there, but they all agreed the food was the main reason. Some vendors, like Buster’s Bees honey seller Fran Lane, said they came out to support local growers and to meet the community.
“There is wonderful food to be found here,” said Lane, who has come every week for the last five years to sell the honey she and her husband collect for their honey bees. “We just need to get it out to the community that we are here.”
Local buyers, like Jonesboro resident Ken Jones, said he would like to see the market grow and attract more local gardeners who are interested in selling the food they have grown.
“I would love to have more vendors here,” Jones said. “Shoot, I might even become a vendor some day.”
The market is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, and on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is held across the street from the Jonesboro Fire House Museum and Community Center located at 103 West Mill Street. Call (770) 473-5434 for additional information.