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Farmers Market offers food, fellowship
Morning tradition still fresh
Mike Reneslacis helps his mom Meg load up 10 dozen ears of corn. The 4-year-old's sister Julie, 7, watched. - photo by Jennifer Sami

The Forsyth County Farmers Market opens at 7 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday through Sept. 30. The market is in the Cumming Fairgrounds parking lot, 235 Castleberry Road. It stays open until all crops are sold. For more information, call the fairgrounds at (770) 781-3491 or the Forsyth County Extension Office at (770) 887-2418.
The sun hadn't risen yet Wednesday and already the crowd was browsing the morning’s freshest selections at the Forsyth County Farmers Market.

“We’re here at 6:30 a.m.,” Lynn Mashburn said. “You come early if you’re wanting something specific, because you know they’ve got it.

“There’s no comparison to the freshness and taste when they go out and pick it yesterday and bring it down here.”

Mashburn and husband Bobby filled a shopping bag with okra from farmer Janie Willis to "freeze it and put it in soup,” she said.

A few tables down, Dawn Mehler was grabbing handful after handful of cherry tomatoes from Herbert Metz. Four pounds and $6 later, she told him to send her best to his wife. With that, she was off to take her children to school.

“She buys that much every week for a couple of years now,” Metz said. “Almost everybody here has their regular customers. You develop good fellowships, good relationships with them.”

Metz was selling a variety of tomatoes Wednesday, but also had peppers, gourds and sweet potatoes.

“These are ripened naturally. They were picked yesterday,” he said about his tomatoes. “What I sold Saturday was picked Friday morning in the rain.”

The market, which began in mid-June, is winding down. Just a few more Wednesdays and Saturdays remain before farmers close up shop Sept. 30.

Metz, like other farmers at the market, sells mostly excess crops from his own personal farm.

“We wound up with too big of a garden and so we came down here to sell our extra produce, because we didn’t want it to go to waste," he said. "We’ve been doing that ever since.”

But for others, like Joseph Ellis, farming is a way of life.

“This is how I make my money, how I make a living,” he said. “My dad, my mom and my sister have got about 50 acres. We’re trying to do this and trying to stay alive.”

Ellis travels across the state to various farmers markets, selling crops from his family’s Native American Farms in Cleveland. He had the largest display Wednesday, including crates of fresh greens and corn.

Customers like Meg Reneslacis put a dent in his stock, buying 10 dozen ears of corn.

Michele Greene also spent a good bit of time at Ellis’ display. The personal chef said she attends several markets, but always hits the Forsyth County one early.

“They have the best prices and the most locally produced things,” she said. “I’m buying today to freeze ... I’m making gumbo to freeze for the winter.”

Greene said she’s a strong supporter of the “farm to table” philosophy.

“I think it’s healthier for you and I think that it’s tastier,” she said. “We’re so lucky that we have so many farmers here. Having really good food to start with really makes a huge difference.”

Since school started back in August, crowds have thinned on Wednesdays, said Charles Samples, market manager. But overall, the summer has been a good one.

“People can’t afford to buy much and that’s the reason we’re trying to keep the prices down,” he said.