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Delayed gardens slowing Jonesboro farmer’s market

Morrow residents Inez and Orville Roberts talk to University of Georgia Extension Agent Tom Bonnell Tuesday at the Clayton County Cooperative Extension Office's farmer's market in Jonesboro.

Morrow residents Inez and Orville Roberts talk to University of Georgia Extension Agent Tom Bonnell Tuesday at the Clayton County Cooperative Extension Office's farmer's market in Jonesboro.

— Officials from the University of Georgia’s Clayton County Cooperative Extension Office are still waiting for Mother Nature to cooperate with their farmer’s market plans.

Extension Agent Tom Bonnell said many gardens have been slow to produce vegetables that can be sold this year. It’s the same problem he said the market was facing when it opened a month ago in a parking lot on West Mill Street in downtown Jonesboro.

“The majority of stuff has been late, so it’s been sort of a different year,” said Bonnell.

Vendors who tried a make a go at selling produce Tuesday expressed hope for a turnaround in their fortunes. There weren’t many vendors, and those who set up booths had limited produce.

“Last year, all of your crop was already gone by now, and this year, you’re still waiting on it,” said Billy Powell.

photo

Curt Yeomans

Jonesboro resident Billy Powell talks to Caroline Embry about the produce selection he had for sale Tuesday at the farmer's market run by the University of Georgia's Clayton County Cooperative Extension Office.

Esther Worthington, a regular at the market every year, said her family’s garden may be ready for a bountiful harvest over the next couple of weeks. She had a few cucumbers, peppers and okra available Tuesday. The okra, which has just started to come in, was gone almost as soon as she set up her booth, she said.

Tomatoes and green beans are close to being ready for sale, but they are not quite there yet. The colder-than-usual temperatures and rainy weather is responsible for the delay, said Worthington.

“It’s just a later season all the way around,” she said. “This time of year, last year, I would have had half of this table filled up with okra and this today, I had two baskets.”

Worthington said the number of people coming to buy food at the market is “about average or maybe a little less” when compared to previous years.

“I think the lack of a lot of produce has something to do with that,” she said. “People come and look at it and say, ‘Hmmm, there’s nothing there.’”

There were a few people who came out to buy produce, however. But many of them couldn’t find what the types they wanted. Okra was a common request, but other than the two cartons Worthington had, and three containers brought by Bonnell, there wasn’t much available.

Morrow residents Inez and Orville Roberts decided to check out the market after they made a trip to Heritage Bank, which is next door. They bought some cucumbers and tomatoes but not much else.

“I’d heard about it, that it was somewhere around here, but I didn’t know where it was,” said Orville Roberts. “I’d seen it from the bank and that’s how I came down here.”

“He likes fresh vegetables,” said Inez Roberts.

“Yeah, I like to get them off the vine,” her husband added.