As the sun broke through and the weather turned warmer, the customers turned out today at the first Oconee Farmers Market of the season in front of the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
The customers were greeted by 20 vendors selling eggs, meats, plants, jams, honey, bread, cakes, pies, nuts, farm-related crafts and more.
Market Manager Cindy Pritchard declared the first market of the season a success.
About half of the visitors were loyal customers and the other half were new faces, she said. Most of the vendors were market regulars anxious to get back into the Saturday morning routine.
The 20 vendors at the market on Saturday was down from the 28 of a year ago.
Pritchard said the cool weather, the holiday weekend and upcoming spring break kept some of the vendors away.
That no doubt affected customers as well.
The market will continue for 35 Saturdays, ending on Nov. 28. It runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Many of today’s vendors were market regulars, selling grass fed beef, gelato and sorbets, dog treats, honey and related products, goat cheese, plants, boiled peanuts, beef jerky and pork skins.
Other vendors come and go as the seasons change. Greens are early arrivals. Tomatoes come later in the year. Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and figs find their way to the market in spring and summer.
Many of the vendors today featured products appropriate to the Easter Holiday weekend, with baked goods and plant arrangements reflecting that theme.
Pritchard’s booth showcased her daughter’s (and husband’s) birdhouses and her own jams. She and her family operate Seven Crows Farms, and she’ll feature her mushrooms later in the year.
The Market is a non-profit, and vendors pay 5 percent of their sales each week to support advertising and other Market activities.
Manager Pritchard handles day-to-day activities and organizes the Saturday setup.
The Market has a board of directors. I am a customer representative on the Board.
The Market also has a fundraising dinner, called Fields of Promise, with proceeds going to support students in the county interested in agriculture.
That event will be held Aug. 15 at the Thomas Cotton Gin on SR 15 south of Watkinsville.