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Farmers market draws huge crowds in S. Hall
Angel Rushing puts out more freshly picked beans for sale at her Shook Family Farm booth Thursday afternoon at the farmer’s market on Spout Springs Road at the branch library. High temperatures didn’t keep customers away as a steady stream of people kept the library parking lot nearly full.

Flowery Branch has a new source for home-grown fruits and veggies.

The Hall County Library System has started a new, weekly farmers market at the Spout Springs branch off Spout Springs Road and the entrance to Sterling on the Lake subdivision.

City officials and others held a grand opening at the library Thursday afternoon, even as a throng of shoppers began to descend on vendors in the packed parking lot.

“This is going to be something that’s needed and will keep growing,” Flowery Branch Councilman Chris Fetterman said. “I grew up in upstate New York and ... did these (markets) as a young kid. They’re really fun.

“... Tell your friends. We want to get bigger. We want to fill this parking lot with people and produce and all that.”

The market is the brainchild of three Sterling residents — Annette Hendry, Eleanor Coppedge and Ken Russell.

“For about two years, we’ve wanted to start a market here ... and we were so lucky to have the library here to sponsor it,” Coppedge said. “Once we had a sponsor, a place to have it, then everything just fell into place.”

Billy Skaggs, Hall County cooperative extension coordinator, and Steven Thomas, manager of the downtown Gainesville Farmers Market, helped the group come up with a list of farmers.

“We shop at farmers markets ourselves and felt there was a need for one closer to home,” Hendry said. “And this is just the ideal site.”

The market started modestly four weeks ago.

“We started with one vendor. He had a glut of strawberries at the time, so he asked if could start early,” Hendry said. “We didn’t intend to start it until this week because this is when the local farmers have their produce ready.”

The man sold out of strawberries within 30 to 40 minutes.

So, it seems the market has struck a chord with area residents.

Last week, about 500 people showed up to browse through booths filled with garden delights, from okra and corn to cucumbers and tomatoes.

Thursday, vendors also were selling baked goods and fresh flowers.

David and Jennie Massey of Our Father’s Farm drove from Hoschton to sell their produce.

“We retired and now we’re working harder than we ever have,” Jennie Massey said, shielding her eyes from the blazing sun that made conditions at the market almost furnace-like.

Vanessa Bragger of Chestnut Mountain carried two bags of items she had bought.

She said she was happy to drive a relatively short distance to pick up organic fruits and vegetables.

Also, she was pleased to see like-minded crowds gathering around the dozen or so booths and lining up with cash in hand.

“It’s beautiful!” Bragger said. “I think it’s good for the community. ... And supporting our local farmers is huge.”