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Alluring, fresh produce available at Hall County Farmers Market
Growers expect market to be a hit this summer
David White of Lula talks to customers Natalie Kean, left, of Gainesville and Jami Philpott, right, of Lawrenceville on Tuesday, the first day of the Hall County Farmers’ Market. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

SoundSlides presentation: The scene at the market

Story: Jefferson Farmers' Market plans to expand

Hall County Farmer's Market

Hours of operation: 6 a.m. to sell out Tuesdays; 7 a.m. to noon Saturdays

Location: Jesse Jewell Parkway and Exit 24 off Interstate 985, Gainesville

"A very rare heirloom. Gorgeous iceberg with copper-hued leaves surrounding a green to white inner head. Delicious sweet flavor and crispy texture."

Supermarket vegetables don’t sweet-talk you like the ones at the Hall County Farmers’ Market. Buyers of the market’s locally grown produce say they don’t taste as good, either.

"Buy local — it’s the way to go," said Carter Corn as he loaded bags of onions, greens, spinach, lettuce and pak choy he bought at the market into the trunk of his car Tuesday. "It’s the best tasting stuff, too."

Corn, a 32-year-old Gainesville resident, shopped at the market with his mother at Tuesday’s season opening of the market, along with others like them who said they liked the idea of supporting local farmers and the local economy.

"It has such a good, fresh flavor grown locally ... tomatoes are so much better locally (grown)," said Donna Jones, who browsed the market with her family.

There were no tomatoes — Hall County tomatoes have not yet had the chance to mature — at Tuesday’s opening, which happened without much fanfare and only six vendors. But there were other options for food and promises of a bigger, more competitive summer for the market’s vendors.

With only six vendors, the market still made a well-rounded showing of a variety of locally made breads, honey, compost, candles and of course, spring vegetables Tuesday.

David White, owner of It Began With a Seed Farm in Lula, had 16 types of lettuce, kale, onions, and beets — each with a written description of colors, flavor and texture — on sale.

White, the market’s president, likened the small opening to learning to crawl before learning to walk.

"You’ll slowly see this place grow into a hustling, bustling kind of place," White said.

Glenn Waldrip sold various spring vegetables and something nobody else had — pokeweed, commonly called "poke salat" in the South. He said customers’ desires will drive the success of this year’s market. With the push toward eating local food, Waldrip is optimistic.

"People are eating more vegetables rather than eating out," Waldrip said. "That’s what I’m hoping."

Bob Bradbury brought the honey he produces in Flowery Branch. Later in the summer, he says he’ll be selling some of the extra vegetables that his honeybees pollinate. Bradbury said Tuesday’s opening, though small, was a sign of better days to come at the market.

"I think we’re in for a change for the better," Bradbury said. "Because people are interested in both good, fresh products at a reasonable price."

Bruce Wills, owner of My Daily Bread who sold various jellies, breads and sweet buns at the market Tuesday, said he, too, expects bigger business at the market this year.

"I was at Suwanee (Farmers’) market last Saturday and we did about 50 percent more business this year than last," Wills said. "We expect farmers’ markets to really be booming this year. People are buying more local stuff; they’re looking for value."

The market has at least 27 vendors signed up to supply various goods throughout the season, which is "considerably more than last year," according to Wills.

It is a competition Wills is happily anticipating.

"I’m excited about it," Wills said. "More vendors, more competition means more customers. That’s just the way economics work."

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