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Local farmers market hits stride for summer
A-Farmers Market is open pic1
A vendor sells onions, tomatoes, peppers, herbs and flowers in vases at the Amicalola Regional Farmers Market on June 2. - photo by Allie Dean Dawson County News

As the hot sun beamed down Friday afternoon, vendor Paula Alicea stood under a tent in the parking lot of the Dawsonville Tractor Supply with the heady scent of her handmade soaps in the air.

Her products, which she sells under the moniker Poplar Ridge Specialty Soap, are made from local ingredients, natural products and natural essential oils in batches by her one-woman team.

Alicea's most popular product is her ‘Quit Your Itchin' bar soap, which contains Jewelweed, a natural remedy for poison ivy.

The Jewelweed in the batch she is currently selling came from the banks of the Etowah River.

Alicea sells her soap at the Amicalola Regional Farmer's Market, which has been held every Friday for the past six weeks. Local farmers and craftsmen are already making it part of their routine.

The close-to-home location and the free registration for vendors are what Alicea said she loves about the market.

"It will be neat to see what the summer brings," Alicea said, anticipating the produce that registered vendors will be toting to the market.

Alicea and other artisans peddled wares like avocado butter lotion, artwork, jewelry and handicrafts, but the bulk of the activity came from farmers and their fresh produce, which included squash, zucchini, potatoes, cabbage, honey, flowers, eggs, raw milk and seafood.

Lindsey Vinson of Coyote Bottoms Farm in Juno manned a table covered in bright yellow summer squash and zucchini. Vinson said this is the farm's first year in business, and they don't sell anywhere else but the market.

Vinson said that later in the summer, visitors to the market can anticipate even more sustainable, local crops like tomatoes, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, beans, peas and even pumpkins.

"This is the way food is supposed to be," Vinson said.

Will Dinsmore, 16, was in charge of selling his family's crop of cabbage. He hefted an 18 pound cabbage, which his father said under perfect conditions could have grown up to 40 pounds.

The family has five acres of farmland, and said they will continue to sell produce at the market throughout the summer.

Most of the vendors said that sales were unpredictable, and that weather played a big role in what crops were available to sell as well as how many people came to buy.

They also shared a similar hope that once the word really gets out about the market, sales will flourish.

Market Manager and County Extension Agent Clark MacAllister said that the inaugural year of the regional market has seen a better start than he could have imagined.

"A lot of folks just see the tents and pull over to see what's going on," MacAllister said. "We had a little market at the extension office downtown for a few years, but we didn't have good visibility there. We're trying to find ways to get a bigger, better market, like choosing Friday to sell because most of the bigger markets are on Saturdays."

The highest number of vendors the market has seen at once was 24, MacAllister said. He said numbers should climb as farmers get their summer crops in.

The Fridays-only event is held at the Tractor Supply on Hwy. 53 E from 3:30 to 7 p.m. through the fall.

There is no fee for vendors their first year. Vendors can fill out an application and return it to the County Extension Office.

MacAllister also wanted to remind citizens that there is an upcoming opportunity to have their scales certified through the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

To weigh produce at a farmer's market, scales have to be certified to ensure they are measuring properly.

Anyone can drop their scales off at the County Extension Office located at 298 Academy Ave. in Dawsonville before Friday June 16 to have them certified.