Farmers markets seeking vendors


By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent



Spring is in the air, and in Henry County, that means area residents can once again take advantage of farmers markets in the area.

Nash Farm Park, at 100 Babbs Mill Rd. in Hampton, will kick off its new Farmers Market April 2, to run from 3-6 p.m., on the first Sunday of each month through December. The market will offer items including home-grown produce, farm-raised beef, homemade baked goods, jams and jellies, handmade craft items and jewelry, locally-sourced honey, and health and wellness items.

Wayne Swanson is the volunteer manager for the farmers market at Nash Farm. He said his goal is to have 20-25 vendors at the market.

“Last time I checked, we had eight or nine,” said Swanson. “We want to make sure we have a good diversity of products for people in Henry County to partake.”

Swanson noted that one unique element of his market centers on a chef that will be on hand to provide cooking tips for those in attendance.

“The chef will be there to show people how to do their own ‘farm to table,’” said Swanson. “He’ll make a meal out of whatever he has available at the Farmers Market. He’ll show people you can buy local, and get it fresh.”

For more information or to be a vendor at Nash Farm’s market, call Swanson at 404-358-8132 or Henry County Parks and Recreation at 770-288-7300, or e-mail parksrec@co.henry.ga.us.

Beginning this spring, Hampton will also offer a second option for farmers-market enthusiasts. Rutabaga’s Market & Café is scheduled to open the city’s revamped Farmers Market May 6 from 9 a.m., until noon. It will be available on the first Saturday of each month through October, said Hampton’s Main Street and Economic Development Director, Denise McKay Sharpe.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have a business owner who wants to coordinate a farmer’s market for us,” said McKay Sharpe. “They sell Georgia products, so what better business to host a farmers market? They have an established clientele already. They also have a Georgia vendor list for the products that they carry. That will be a natural attraction anyway, and we can just expand on theirs.”

While not a definite location for the Hampton market, McKay Sharpe said, tentative plans call for it to operate between James Street and Cherry Street. She credited the café’s owners, Tracy North and Michelle Pyrtle, for hosting a farmers market in Hampton.

“Tracy and Michelle are just delightful people, and they’ll make it a lot of fun,” said McKay Sharpe. “I think it’ll be a pleasant market to go to. As the Main Street director, I’m so grateful to have them. It’s just a great addition to our downtown area.”

Pyrtle and North are active in Georgia Grown, a marketing program enabling local crafters, as well as vendors who sell jams, jellies, produce and other products, to offer their items to the public.

“We believe in Georgia-grown products, and we just want to help the community,” said Pyrtle.

For the ninth straight year, Heritage Park in McDonough will host the Henry County Farmers Market in the Jason T. Harper Event Center, 95 Lake Dow Road. Starting May 25, the market will be open on Thursdays from 10 a.m., until 2 p.m.

Frank Hancock, Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent for the University of Georgia Extension Office in McDonough, oversees the Farmers Market at Heritage Park. He said the market will once again showcase a variety of items supplied by local farmers.

“We’re going to have plenty of vegetables, tomatoes, jellies, honey, kettle corn -- all sorts of stuff,” said Hancock.

He indicated that farmers markets carry benefits for vendors, consumers, the local economy and the environment. Hancock thanked local residents for their support of the market over the years.

“We had a few more folks come in last year than the year before. They want the fresh vegetables and they want to know who’s growing them.”

The Locust Grove Farmer’s Market will return to Down-town’s Train Viewing Platform on Saturdays from June 3 to Aug. 26, from 8 a.m., until noon. The market will offer fresh tomatoes, beans, squash, and other items grown by local farmers, said Locust Grove Main Street Manager Anna Williams.

“Many weekends, shoppers visiting the Train Platform can also find vendors and farmers with other agricultural products such as handmade goat’s milk soap, jams, jellies, baked goods, and honey,” said Williams. “The Market’s location in the Train Viewing Platform features easy access to parking, handicap accessibility, and access to public restrooms, not to mention an exciting up-close view of passing trains!”

For more information, go to visitlocustgrove.com or e-mail awilliams@locustgrove-ga.gov.