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Summer growing season celebrated in Dawson during National Farmer’s Market Week
National Farmer's Market Week 1
Avery, 7, and Oliver, 6, eat free ice cream at the Amicalola Regional Farmer’s Market Aug. 11. - photo by Allie Dean

Patrons of the Amicalola Regional Farmer’s Market last Friday were treated with free ice cream in honor of National Farmer’s Market Week, a celebration of local produce and handmade products declared by U.S. Secretary of Sonny Perdue in a proclamation Aug. 3.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Aug. 6-12, 2017 is the eighteenth year the USDA has supported local producers by encouraging families to meet, and buy from, the farmers and other vendors at their local farmers market.

Louise McPherson, soil conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, said that she thought giving out free ice cream was a good way to celebrate the success of the market, which started at the Tractor Supply parking lot location in April.

“We just wanted to let folks know we appreciate them coming out,” McPherson said.

Perdue’s proclamation states that farmers markets and other agricultural direct marketing outlets contribute approximately $9 billion each year to the U.S. economy.

According to the USDA, buying directly from farmers and ag-entrepreneurs has an outsized impact by helping diversify farm incomes and supporting other businesses by keeping more money in the local economy.

“In addition to being good for the farmers and convenient for consumers, farmers markets are a gathering place that help build a sense of community,” the release states.

And the Amicalola Regional Farmer’s market really is a community affair.

A dozen or so vendors set up at the Aug. 11 market, peddling late summer vegetables like tomatoes, carrots and potatoes as well as seafood, sausage and honey and handmade products like jewelry, paintings and quilts.

The market runs every Friday from 3:30 to 7 p.m.

McPherson said a lot of the vendors from earlier in the year had sold all of their produce and now some new vendors were setting up. The number of vendors has remained consistent in the upper teens.

One booth set up at the market on Friday was manned by two young brothers, Bennett Clark, 13, and Franklin Clark, 10.

Their sign read “Brother’s Produce,” and their fresh carrots and tomatoes were laid out against a bright red and white table cloth.

Bennett weighed a tomato on an electric scale, completing the transaction with with older sister Laney overseeing.

“We bought a house here three years ago,” Bennett said. “There was a big garden behind the house, and we always wanted to grow vegetables there. In the past year we got serious and starting planting.”

The operation is entirely the responsibility of the two brothers, who grow, harvest and sell the produce themselves. They’ve set up since the beginning of the market earlier in the year and said they’ve seen a lot of traffic.

“It’s amazing how much business they do with so little advertising,” Laney Clark said.

A few booths down was a tent manned by Norma White, 80, who lives across from the Tractor Supply in the Farmington Creek senior living community.

She had set up her jewelry and quilt stands, stating she loved how convenient it was for her to get to the market.

White said she started making quilts at 9 years old under her grandmother’s instruction, but that jewelry making is something she’s only been interested in for the past few years.

“As long as I can sell something, I’ll be here,” White said.