“This will be my third year [participating],” Moll said. “[I enjoy] getting to meet all the people. It’s just a great opportunity to meet a lot of the people in our community and share what you provide.
“... The Cartersville Farmer’s Market has been going on forever and I didn’t even know about it. My fiance found out about it, so he started checking into it. It’s just awesome because we have our garden and we use our own [produce], and then whatever is left over, we share with the community. We bring it there and the people that buy it love it.”
Overseen by the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority and the Bartow County Extension Office, the Cartersville Farmer’s Market operates Wednesdays, 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays, 7 a.m. to noon, through Sept. 27 at Founder’s Oak Park on North Public Square. Responding to feedback from the public and vendors, the market this year changed its hours from Wednesday morning to evening.
“The 2014 Cartersville Farmer’s Market has been off to a great start,” Cartersville DDA Manager Tara Currier said. “We sold out of vendor space the middle of May and currently have 40 vendors. To date, the most we’ve had at any one market is about 20, but anticipate that number growing steadily towards the full 40 as more crops continue to come in. Already, there is a great variety of greens, tomatoes, squash, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers and more as far as the fresh produce goes. Shoppers at each market will also find fresh cut flowers, honey, handmade soaps, eggs, homemade spices, a variety of delicious baked goods from breads, muffins and cupcakes and more. Attendance to the markets has so far been great. A few of the Wednesdays have brought with them a short, pop-up shower, but it hasn’t seemed to deter many shoppers. The vendors have all given great feedback on the number of people coming through.
“... We changed [the time on Wednesdays] really due to the community’s demand. I had people tell me often that they just can’t get by early in the day and wished the market was in the evenings. Of course we needed the vendors to be in favor, and luckily most of them also saw benefit to moving to an evening time frame. Several have already commented how much better sales have been on Wednesdays at the new time. The first day of the Wednesday market, there were over 100 people in the first hour. I couldn’t believe it, and know many of the vendors were pleasantly surprised. I’ve had at least a few people tell me they love being able to get off work and head straight to the Farmer’s Market to pick up their fresh fruit and veggies for dinner.”
To further engage the public, Cartersville Farmer’s Market features entertainment or an activity at least once a month.
“In order to continue to entice people to come out and experience the Cartersville Farmer’s Market firsthand, DDA has arranged a few activities to be held during the market,” Currier said. “Special Events Coordinator Catherine Woods did a children’s activity a few weeks ago, and we had Sue Hopkins with Etowah Valley Yoga out at the June 28 market doing yoga demonstrations. She will be back on July 19 doing a Qigong class.
“The following Saturday, July 26, we will have the second annual Tomato Festival. We’ll be selecting the best tasting tomato, ugliest tomato, biggest tomato and more. Other plans for the market are also being planned, including downtown restaurant cooking demonstrations, musical performances and more. We just want to add variety to hopefully help draw more people to experience all the great homegrown and handmade products that these vendors work so hard to provide for our community.”
Started in the early 1980s, the Cartersville Farmer’s Market was spearheaded by the late Bartow County Extension Agent Walter Culverhouse to help local farmers sell their excess produce. Due to rainy weather, Bartow County Extension Coordinator Paul Pugliese said many farmers have struggled, having to delay the planting of some of their vegetables.
“According to the UGA Automated Environmental Monitoring Network, georgiaweather.net, the average amount of rainfall received this year is about 27 inches for most of Bartow County,” Pugliese said. “We’ve had a total of 74 rainy days this year, according to local weather stations. Compared to this time last year, we had over 41 inches of rain and 74 rainy days. The average rainfall we usually receive by July 1 in Bartow County is around 30 inches of rain, so this year is actually closer to a normal year. Even though we don’t have the surplus rainfall that we had last spring, it’s still been a challenge for local farmers to plant their vegetables and harvest with so many rainy days.
“Many vegetables were delayed from early planting due to wet field conditions. Also, having so many cloudy and rainy days has slowed the maturity of certain crops, such as okra, peppers and tomatoes. However, we’ve seen plenty of locally grown vegetables at the farmer’s markets the past couple of weeks, including green beans, squash, zucchini and cucumbers. These are always the earliest crops to harvest and are doing very well this spring. In the next two weeks, we’ll begin to see early sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, okra and peas at local farmer’s markets — just in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. We also have several licensed vendors selling farm fresh eggs this year.”
Along with Cartersville Farmer’s Market, similar offerings are being presented in Adairsville and Taylorsville. Through a to-be-determined date in September, the Taylorsville market is a small-scale operation and is being held Saturdays from 7 to 11 a.m. on Madden Street.
Sponsored by Adairsville High School, the Adairsville Farmers Market operates each Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m. during the summer at 4 Cass St., behind Adairsville Animal Hospital. While there is no fee to sell their wares, vendors must meet certain qualifications to participate, such as their operations being located within a 60-mile radius of Adairsville High School, 519 Old Highway 41.
With several markets taking root throughout Bartow, Pugliese said these initiatives benefit farmers and consumers alike.
“We have seen an increasing interest from local consumers to support a thriving downtown farmer’s market, which brings people into our community and the downtown Cartersville area,” Pugliese said. “Having local farmer’s markets encourages healthy food choices that support our local farmers, stimulate our local economy and protect our agricultural resources. It is worth noting that 98 percent of the 2.2 million farms in the U.S. are currently classified by the USDA as family farms, and these farms account for 85 percent of total production. Therefore, whenever and wherever consumers buy Georgia grown products, they are supporting family farms and our local economy.”