Farm fresh: Local produce markets coming into season

LAWRENCEVILLE - A few farmers are already selling their fruits and vegetables at the Village Market in Stone Mountain, one of at least four local farmers markets that will be operating in Gwinnett this summer.

The Village Market opened in May and will continue from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday through Sept. 12.

The market's coordinator, Beverly Jenkins, a small farmer and vendor herself, said she expected more farmers to participate in the market beginning in June, when their crops should be ready for picking. In the meantime, Gwinnett residents can find tomatoes, squash, string beans, jalapeno peppers and green peppers for sale.

The annual Lawrenceville Farmers Market has doubled in size since 2008 and this year will feature 20 to 25 vendors set up across from the front entrance of the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays beginning June 6.

The market has been approved to accept EBT Food Stamps.

"I think we're one of the few markets in Georgia that's going to be doing that," said Brennan Washington, who is coordinating the market. "The other big change is that we've gone to a strictly locally grown market. A lot of people have expressed interest in locally grown food."

Washington and his wife, Gwendolyn, are vendors themselves, owning Phoenix Gardens of Lawrenceville, which specializes in heirloom tomatoes, offering 25 varieties in all colors. Other specialty produce, including specialty peppers, melons, salad greens, squash, beans, beets and carrots, is grown locally on two acres of land.

"We think our market will probably be the biggest in Gwinnett County," Washington said. "We'd like people to come on out and taste what's being grown in their own backyards."

SideBar: The Markets

Suwanee Farmers Market

What to expect: Locally grown seasonal produce - lettuce, broccoli, spring onions, strawberries, turnips, radishes and beets - herbs, plants, free-range meat and eggs, baked goods, jams and jellies

When: 8 a.m. to noon through Oct. 17, except Sept. 19

Where: Town Center Park, 370 Buford Highway, Suwanee

For more information: Call the city of Suwanee at 770-945-8996

Stone Mountain Village Market

What to expect: Locally grown fruits and vegetables in an open-air market, as well as vendors selling handmade candles, spa products, natural soaps, handbags, handmade jewelry

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays through September or October

Where: Stone Mountain Village, next to City Hall, which is at 922 Main St., Stone Mountain

For more information: Call Beverly Jenkins at 678-532-0200

Whistlestop Farmer's Market

What to expect: Locally grown seasonal produce, honey, baked goods, herbs and spices, plants and flowers, organic items and artisan soaps and beauty products. Cooking demonstrations, children's activities and presentations on composting, growing vegetables, installing rain barrels, organic gardening and pesticide-free lawn maintenance are planned.

When: 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays on June 2 through Oct. 27

Where: On Buchanan Street, alongside Thrasher Park in Norcross

For more information: Visit www.thewhistlestopfarmersmarket.com

Lawrenceville Farmers Market

What to expect: Farmers and home canners selling fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef, eggs, honeys, jams, herbs and flowers, as well as vendors offering baskets and soaps

When: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays from June 6 through Sept. 26, with the exception of July 4

Where: Across from the front entrance of the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse, which is at 185 W. Crogan St., Lawrenceville

For more information: Call 678-226-2639