To her delight, she currently has the opportunity to examine a host of fresh produce as area farmers markets get under way. Once a vendor at Cartersville's Downtown Farmers Market, she now is a frequent shopper at the annual offering, picking up a variety of items on Wednesday.
"I was looking for fresh vegetables that someone had raised," Latham said. "Fresh vegetables are better than anything because I know they're fresh. I bought some green beans, cucumbers and squash and peppers. All I can tell you is I like the taste lots better because you can't find anything in the store without it being frozen most of the time or you don't know how long it might have been gathered.
"I [also] bought a big, pretty cantaloupe but I haven't cut it yet. They used to say [cantaloupes] smell when they got ripe but you can't hardly find them anymore that [have] a good smell. I mostly go by the look, if they're beginning to turn yellow, and I try to pick a good, firm one."
Reinforcing the market's original purpose, Latham expressed her fondness of having a venue for local farmers to sell excess produce. Started in the early 1980s by retired Bartow County Extension Agent Walter Culverhouse, the Downtown Farmers Market operates Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer. Held at Founders Oak Park along Public Square in Cartersville, the market opens at sunup and closes about noon or when the farmers sell all of their produce.
For the fourth year, the market is regulation-free to vendors. In 2006, one-time fees were charged -- $10 to Bartow growers and $20 to sellers from surrounding counties -- and resold goods were banned to promote local farmers and heighten the quality of produce. However, the effort to monitor the Downtown Farmers Market was unsuccessful. Some farmers only participated on Saturdays, when city employees were not working and thus could not enforce the guidelines.
While the vending spaces are first-come, first-served to any farmer this year, city officials hope the market will return to its roots, featuring mainly Bartow producers and no resold goods.
"Over the last several years it seems more and more people want to have an idea or know where their produce is coming from," said Bartow County Extension Agent Greg Bowman. "So there is an increase of folks wanting to buy locally grown. So I think there is a lot of consumers who want that and this is a great opportunity for our producers to make a little money but also to get their product out so there is a demand out there.
"I think it's something we'll see grow more over the years. So you're probably going to see more and more corner markets and downtown markets."
Along with the Cartersville offering, a farmers' and artisans' market in Euharlee is in full swing. In its first year, items are being sold in the rear parking lot of Johnny Mitchell's Smokehouse at 100 Covered Bridge Road every Friday, 4 to 7 p.m., through December.
"I really just wanted to start it to promote local people and to create a good source of locally-grown produce and healthy food," said Alex Austin, the event's coordinator and a Euharlee resident who also will be selling plants, herbs and her brother's scrap metal art on Fridays. "[It's also an opportunity for] people who do handcrafted items to sell their goods. I was trying to expand on the idea of the Cartersville market and make it more accessible to artists, particularly heritage [crafts]."
Although there are a limited number of spaces, vendors still can register to sell their wares. To cover the market's expenses, one-time annual fees will be charged -- $10 for an 8-foot-by-5-foot space or $15 for a 10-foot-by-10-foot space.
Interested vendors need to contact Austin at 770-856-1967 or firstname.lastname@example.org.