Imagine a picnic table filled with platters of food made with fresh produce grown in Georgia. It would be an endless smorgasbord of delicious delicacies fit for a king.
At that table, folks would agree that Georgians know how to roll out the red carpet with good wholesome food and fine Southern hospitality.
In Georgia and in Hall County, the fruit and vegetable industry is alive and well.
Fruits, vegetables and nuts accounted for $1.15 billion in farm gate value in 2007, representing 13 percent of all farm products in Georgia.
A wide range of commodities are grown right here in Northeast Georgia, including apples, beans, bell peppers, blueberries, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, grapes, greens, melons, okra, onions, peaches, peas, pecans, pumpkins, snap beans, strawberries, sweet corn, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
In Hall County, the farm gate value of fruits, nuts and vegetables in 2008 was more than $2.5 million, with apples, peaches, cantaloupes, pumpkins and tomatoes topping the list. And although some fruiting plants in our area received some minor freeze damage earlier this year, we can still look forward to solid crop of spring and summer fruits and vegetables.
While some of these products are sold via wholesale and retail outlets, the Hall County Farmers’ Market provides local residents a direct line to locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Created in 1973, the Hall County Farmers’ Market reopened for the 2009 growing season on Tuesday.
The days of operation for the Farmers are Tuesday mornings starting at 6 a.m. and Saturday mornings at 7 a.m. The market is located on the corner of East Crescent Drive and Jesse Jewel Parkway, near Interstate 985 at Exit 24.
While the farmers’ market features many of the traditional veggie favorites, you can also find a nice selection of potted plants, cut flowers, shrubs, locally produced honey, and jams and jellies.
Also, we’re always looking for new farmers and vendors. If you have a large garden and would like to make a few extra bucks, you are invited to join as a market member and sell your produce. You’ll meet lots of great customers who are always looking for fresh, homegrown items.
For more information on the Hall County Farmers Market, call the county extension office at 770-535-8293.
Billy Skaggs is a Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988. His column appears biweekly and at gainesvilletimes.com.