Suwanee Farmers Market opens to farmers' delight

SUWANEE -- Karen Thain supports the Suwanee Farmers Market more than any market around.

The Buford resident has taken the temperature of several farmers markets around, and said this is her favorite. She comes for the vendors, but not every vendor. Thain said she knows which ones are her favorite, and she's happy to feed her family of five with produce bought from the Suwanee Market, which opened its Tuesday and Saturday schedule this week.

"I try to come and get everything I want or like," Thain said. "And only go to the grocery store if I really need it. I'm into local. I come every week."

Eighteen vendors were expected on Tuesday, but there were four no-shows. The Saturday selection, which features more long-time vendors, has a roster of 26.

Farmers at the market were glad to have opening day arrive after many of their products are about three weeks ahead of schedule.

"I can finally get rid of this stuff that's been in the field for three weeks," Lula farmer David White said.

Ed Patton, who had a table full of strawberries from Dahlonega, and more buckets in his truck, sold a container to Thain. Patton has farms in Dahlonega and between Cleveland and Helen, and Farmers Market Manager Rosalie Tubre said Patton was "chomping at the bit" to sell his strawberries because they were so much ahead of schedule.

Patton has sold at this market since it opened, and he said he returns every year because of loyal customers.

"We just try to make sure what we sell can't be bought at WalMart," Patton said. "I like WalMart, but it's not fresh when it's coming from China."

Customers like Thain agree, and said the vendors she buys from pick their products the day of, or the day before.

"I like to cook," she said. "And I feel like I get the best quality stuff here."

It's a mutual relationship for farmers like White, who sold lettuce, radishes, kale, onions and broccoli to long-time friend Bruce McQuain of Dacula who is a chef at Rumi's Kitchen in Sandy Springs. White said this community supports the market more than any market he knows. Customers don't simply drive by, they stop and buy on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

"People that come here year after year are as dedicated to us as we are to them," White said.

Added McQuain," He won't bring you stuff that's not ready, that's not ripe."