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Downtown Gainesville market starts Friday
Local produce, handmade crafts will be sold from 2:30 to 6:30
Luba Rusk walks through rows of squash and zucchini looking for those ready to pick Tuesday afternoon at her North Hall garden. Rusk will be taking her produce to the downtown Market on the Square opening this Friday.

Market on the Square

What: Local produce, handmade crafts
When: 2:30-6:30 Fridays
Where: Downtown Gainesville square
More info:

Luba Rusk has been farming since she was 10 years old.

A garden full of squash and zucchini sits near her house. Down a hill sit the tomato plants, 16 varieties of heirloom tomatoes to be exact, plus beans. To the side of that and across the drive are the cucumbers. And along the drive, limbs of blueberry bushes hang heavy with ripening berries.

"I just like to get out, and to me, farming is my relaxation," she said after picking a few squash.
She'll be selling that squash plus zucchini and some plants at the Market on the Square in Gainesville, which starts Friday for its third year.

Steve Thomas, who started the market, said there will be even more vendors than last year, including local farmers as well as craftsmen.

"It's growing. We'll have everybody who came last year, so all of our old favorites," he said. "And apparently with the economy doing what it's doing, some people have taken up farming. So we have probably six or seven new farmers coming in this year."

Rusk has been selling at the market since it started. She also sells at the Hall County Farmers Market on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. She started selling her produce about five years ago, after retiring.

"You get out here, you can close your mind to the telephone; you can close your mind to business," she said. "Only thing you've got is you've got ground, you've got dirt and you've got plants that you grow. And you get the satisfaction of knowing that you started this from seed."

She says her husband, Dave, and grandson, Jordan Teague, are the muscle. Teague, 19, ran the tiller Tuesday, working to control weeds between the rows.

"This is a hobby that's gone amuck," she said, driving a golf cart between patches of growing plants. "My hobby has just grown and grown and grown."

Her tomatoes won't be ready for market until at least the end of June. Once that fruit starts coming in, Thomas said the market will start its Cast Iron Chef of Gainesville once again.

The competition, which will be every two weeks, pits local restaurants and caterers against one another using a "mystery box" of produce. They can bring their own meat to use in the dish.

Something new this year, though, will be cooking demonstrations every Friday "using whatever the farmers bring to show new and interesting things to do with them," Thomas said. They'll typically start around 3 p.m. and last about 10-30 minutes.

The market runs 2:30-6:30 p.m. every Friday and will feature at least 20 vendors by July as more produce starts coming in.


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