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Downtown Gainesville market wraps up good year
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Lamar Presley weighs a batch of fresh squash Friday afternoon at his booth in downtown Gainesville during the final day of business for the downtown farmers market. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

The downtown Gainesville farmers market on Friday wrapped up what may have been its best season yet.

Steve Thomas, manager of the market, said at the height, the market had 24 vendors, which is about the capacity of the square where the market was held 2:30-6:30 p.m. every Friday through the growing season. Last year the market had about 21 vendors at the most.

“Sales have been very good this year, especially with the farmers,” Thomas added.

Lamar Presley said the season had been good for his stand, which includes a variety of produce like squash and okra. He said the Gainesville market has been one of the best he sells at; he also sells at Suwanee’s Saturday market and runs a produce stand in downtown Maysville closer to his farm, where he’ll continue to sell cabbage and collards along with tomatoes, thanks to a new greenhouse.

He’s been coming to the Gainesville market for three years.

“It’s grown a lot this year,” Presley said of the market. “Especially when the peaches and the strawberries and stuff like that were around. Peaches drew a lot of people in.”

Tomatoes are a big seller for him, too, as they are for many of the vendors.

“If they’re growing produce, then it’s selling,” Thomas said. “We’ve seen an uptick in the number of people who are interested in buying fresh locally grown produce.”

Thomas added that produce at the market can be better quality than what buyers may find at the grocery store.

“I overheard one woman say that she had bought mustard greens here last week, and they ate them all up. So they went to the store and got some and there was no comparison,” he said.

Bob Bradbury, who sells a variety of honeys, also said the market has been good, and wildflower honey has been his top seller.

Other markets, such as the one in Suwanee, are more lucrative for him, though, he said.

Thomas said the market next year will start up in May and likely won’t bring on any new farmers, given the space constraints of the square.

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