Farmers get prepared to sell produce

CONYERS - According to Leroy Bigham, a Conyers resident and farmer, farming is a wonderful way of life - if you can make a living out of it. Now his farming is more of a hobby than a livelihood, and he and a few other area farmers are planning to offer their goods for sale.

On Saturday, the Rockdale Farm Bureau will kick off its 6th annual farmer's market to showcase and sell vegetables from the farms of many local residents. The Farmer's Market, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday and Tuesday through October, will be located at 1400 Parker Road in Conyers and will offer a variety of vegetables such as potatoes, green beans, onions, peppers, squash and tomatoes from many local growers.

According to Bigham, who will be selling his produce at the market Saturday, people mainly come to the market for freshness and variety.

Bigham grows all his own vegetables and he picks them daily for friends, family and the farmer's market.

"I've been doing this ever since I was knee-high to a duck," Bigham said.

Bigham grew up on a farm in Gordon County and graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in agricultural production. He came to Rockdale as the county's extension director 23 years ago and has been active with local farmers ever since, especially through the county's farmer's market, which he helped set up with the Farm Bureau and friend Roger Hatch.

"Since we have been there, I don't think I have failed to sell everything except one time," Bigham said.

According to Bigham, the Farmer's Market has been a great success. What he enjoys most, however, is meeting new people and enjoying their company.

"It's the camaraderie with the other growers and to be able to meet the public," Bigham said.

The Conyers farmer has spent the past few months preparing for the big day Saturday. All he has left to do is pick the vegetables, put them in baskets and bring them over to Parker Road.

Different vegetables from his farm and other local farms will be available throughout the season, Bigham said.

The Rockdale County Cooperative Extension Office is planning some events to be held in conjunction with the farmer's market. A Family Fun Day is scheduled for July 18 that will include a peach pie baking contest. Jule-Lynne Macie, Rockdale County Extension Office coordinator, said the some other events are planned, including a traditional county-fair type festival in July.

The city of Oxford is also doing its part to promote locally grown produce by hosting an informal farmers market on the city-owned greenspace near the post office on Ga. Highway 81.

"It's available for free to anyone who grows their own products here in Newton County or contiguous counties," City Councilman Jim Windham said.

Farmers can use the space from dawn until dusk Monday through Saturday. They must obtain a permit from City Hall before setting up shop.

"We wanted to make locally grown products available to the citizens of Oxford and the citizens of Covington," Windham said. "If someone grows more in their garden than they can use, then someone else can use it. Then, there's the social aspect of it in a small town."

Farmers are welcome to sell anything from produce to eggs to honey, so long as it's locally produced, he said.

"We don't want them going to the Atlanta Farmer's Market and buying it and coming here and selling it. That's not what this is about," he said.

For more information, call Oxford City Hall at 770-786-7004.