Things aren’t quite yet going full blast at the State Farmers Market, but they’re definitely picking up despite a weather-related delay in the arrival of watermelons in particular.
“Local melons started coming in this week which is about two weeks later than normal, but coming up to the 4th (of July) we’re anticipating we’ll be in full swing,” market manager Jennifer Felton said Friday.
At the moment, the average price of a melon is $3-4 which, Felton said, averages out to 11-12 cents per pound. Despite all the rain that delayed planting , the melons on hand are sweet, and the overall quality is excellent, according to Felton.
There are both Georgia and Florida watermelons on the market and those who have a preference for the former should visit Shed 1 which is strictly for use by farmers from surrounding counties.
Cantaloupes, which are and have been rather plentiful for a while now, are selling from 75 cents to $1. They, like watermelons, are checked closely by federal and state inspectors to ensure quality and safety.
Tomatoes are bringing anywhere from $17-19 per box, peas and butterbeans from $20-23 per bushel, corn $12-14 per bushel (60 ears), peaches $15-16 for a 25-pound box and okra $20 for a half-bushel, $40 per bushel.
Vidalia onions also are available in varying quantities as are squash, cabbage, plums and greens.
In addition to sales by farmers, market customers have the option of buying from Calhoun Produce, the Pea House, T&D Produce, Johnson’s Produce, Gomez Produce and Bagwell Farms. Some of them rent space year-round for a monthly fee and all are now currently open for business.
There are also individual vendors who set up their booths just inside the main fence and pay a weekly fee to sell produce they have purchased usually in large quantities and re-sell generally in smaller amounts.
“We’d like to encourage local and area residents to come on out and take advantage not only of the freshness of the fruit and produce available for sale, but also the better prices than they’ll usually find elsewhere,” Felton said.
Current market hours are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days per week, and as the season gets busier closing will be extended another hour before gates are locked for the day.
Assisted by just one other full-time employee, Bessie Floyd, whose job duties include among other things overseeing market maintenance that is performed four days per week by state prisoners, Felton said there are no present plans for anyone to open the restaurant on the premises.