Twelve vendors, offering grass-fed beef, pasta, fresh vegetables, plants, soaps, dog biscuits, and other items, turned out yesterday for the soft launch of the 14th season of Oconee Farmers Market.
The vendors set up booths at 8 a.m. in front of the Courthouse in Watkinsville, as they will every Saturday now until the end of November, and remained in place until the 1 p.m. closing.
David Court, a one-man-band playing harmonica, mountain dulcimer and foot tambourine, provided the music, which had some of the smaller customers dancing and smiling to his beat.
Court’s repertoire included Celtic fiddle tunes, American folk music and songs from the 1960s and 1970s.
Official Launch Delayed
The Grand Opening of the Market will be on April 22.
The Market Board decided to do the soft launch to accommodate vendors who planted with the traditional first Saturday in April opening date in mind.
Oconee County Schools are in Spring Break this week, and Easter is April 16, leading the Board to decide that the April 22 date was best for the Grand Opening, according to Farmers Market Board President Annie Kennedy.
No booths will be set up on North Third Street this year, providing easier and more visible access to passing customers in the large parking lot behind the Courthouse itself.
Available On Saturday
Vendors on Saturday were selling fresh vegetables, including carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and lettuce and other plants for setting.
Also on offer were pound cakes, boiled peanuts, soaps made of goats milk, jewelry, different types of granola, pastas and gelatos.
The Market is open to local vendors who grow, make or blend the products they sell.
The Market was begun 14 years ago to provide farmers from Oconee and surrounding counties with a venue to sell their products and to provide residents with a chance to purchase locally produced food and related products.
Market organizers also saw the support for farmers as part of an effort to preserve green space in the county.
The Market is a nonprofit organization and is supported entirely by the contributions of vendors, with each vendor paying 5 percent of sales or a $10 set fee each week, whichever is higher.
I serve on the Market Board as the customer representative.