Farmers market brings fresh food to suburbs

LAWRENCEVILLE - Brennan Washington knows it can be a little tough to find fresh fruits and vegetables in an area that's become heavily populated and lacks open land.

"It's been a real challenge given the growth of Gwinnett County to find locally grown wares," Washington said.

To make things a little easier for local residents, Washington has helped expand Lawrenceville's Farmers' Market, which is in its third year.

Washington said this year the farmers market has 10 to 12 vendors who sell their goods every Saturday and three to five vendors who attend when they have products to sell.

Last year, in Washington's first year as chairman of the farmers market, it had six regular vendors. The event had four regular vendors in its first year of operation in 2005, Washington said.

"It's been great this year," Washington said. "Traffic's been up. We really took a strong stance with marketing this year. One of the things we wanted to do was make sure we had a lot more vendors and make sure people knew it was there, and we've been succeeding on both accounts."

Washington said he'd guess the farmers market, which continues every Saturday until Sept. 29, has about 300 to 400 people pass through each week.

Washington became interested in the farmers market because he and his wife run a farm in Lawrenceville, Phoenix Gardens, as a side business. During the week Washington works for Touchstone Homes in Suwanee, which is a sponsor of the farmers market along with The Lawrenceville Woman's Club and the Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade Association.

Washington said he and his wife sell different kinds of tomatoes, peppers, melons and beans.

"We try to grow unique stuff that you're not going to find in the supermarket," he said.

Offering out-of-the-ordinary produce is one distinctive aspect of the farmers market, said Jay Markwalter, executive director of the Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade Association.

"The Lawrenceville Farmers' Market has really grown over the last three years to include a terrific variety of products and fun," Markwalter said.

SideBar: If you go

What: Lawrenceville Farmers' Market

When: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m every Saturday through Sept. 29

Where: Downtown Lawrenceville in the parking lot directly behind the Crogan Street fountain