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Farmers’ markets ready for season

POSTED: May 31, 2013 12:27 a.m.
Crystal Ledford/

Hank Gravitt walks along blueberry bushes at his farm. Gravitt will be selling his produce at the Cumming Farmers’ Market, which he manages.

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Looking for the freshest possible produce and homemade treats?

The Cumming and Brookwood farmers’ markets have you covered.

Forsyth County’s two markets are ready for a busy season this summer, with Brookwood having opened earlier this month and the Cumming market beginning its season Saturday.

Kelly Walczak, founder of the Brookwood market, said it kicked off its fourth season May 17 with nearly 30 vendors.

“We think this is our year,” she said. “More and more people are talking about us and we’re very excited for this year.”

She said 2012 was a “transitional year” for the market, which moved from the parking lot of Brookwood Elementary School to Caney Creek Preserve, a new county greenspace park.

“The park opened a little later than expected so we had kind of an abbreviated season and we also had to work on getting people to know where we were again,” she said. “But based on the last two weeks, we’re very happy about this year.”

Manager Hank Gravitt has similar hopes for the Cumming market, which has been around for decades.

“We hope to get a lot of vendors this year,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of people call me who haven’t been involved in it before, and last year we probably had double the number of vendors we had in previous years on average.”

The Cumming Farmers’ Market will be held from 6:30 a.m. until vendors run out of items every Wednesday and Saturday at the Cumming Fairgrounds parking lot on Castleberry Road.

Gravitt, who will be selling items such as potatoes, tomatoes and beets at the market, said anyone wishing to shop there should plan on getting up early.

“People will be there as soon as we open at 6:30 in the morning and a lot of the vendors sell out in an hour or two,” he said.

For those who like to sleep in a bit, Brookwood may be the better option.

The south Forsyth market, which benefits the Brookwood Elementary School PTA, is open from 4 to 7 p.m. every Friday at Caney Creek Preserve, 2755 Caney Road.

This year, the Cumming market will remain open through the first of October, a few weeks longer than in the past.

“We’ll be going up until the start of the [Cumming Country Fair & Festival],” Gravitt said. “People sold up through the end of September last year so we’re just going to keep it open a little longer this year.”

Walczak said the Brookwood market will be open through Sept. 27.

Both sites will offer a range of products, all of which have to be homemade or grown by the vendors.

The Cumming market limits its vendors to those from Forsyth and surrounding counties, while Brookwood is open to any from throughout Georgia.

Adding diversity to the market’s offerings is something Gravitt hopes to continue each year.

“We had a lot of diversity last year,” he said. “We had homemade soaps, we had a lot of baked goods … we had a guy who makes fresh sausage and we did have a family that did locally raised beef, but they did so well they didn’t have enough to meet the demand. I’m hoping they’ll be back this year.

“My biggest goals are to have more young people involved and more diverse products.”

Similarly, the Brookwood market will feature a wide range of products available.

“We’ve got everyone from bread vendors to cheese vendors. We have a few gourmet wines, jellies and spreads this year,” Walczak said. “We’ve got some gourmet cake and cupcake makers and we even have someone who is going to be selling organic cotton candy.

“So we truly have something for everybody.”

The Brookwood Market also offers activities for children and live music. Walczak said she’s seeking additional musicians to perform during the evenings.

“We’ve got a few lined up, but we’d like to have more because it’s always nice to have live music,” she said.

Jeff Adams, owner of Circle A Farms, sells his produce at both markets.

The farm uses hydroponics to produce several varieties of lettuce, including spring mix, Romaine and bib, as well as basil.

He said the markets are good not only for local farmers, but also customers who care about the quality of food they’re buying.

“[The markets are] great places for us as local famers to get rid of our products and then it’s also a great place for local consumers to buy fresh, local produce,” he said.

“The fresher you can get it, the healthier it is. So it’s a win for everybody.”

 

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