Some of the farmers and gardeners don’t mind if customers stop to buy even before the clock strikes seven times.
Shoppers will find a wide variety of produce and most likely, some local honey, pickled beets, soup starter, pickled eggs, chow-chow, pickles and embroidered dish towels, among other items.
This is Bill Barclay’s first year to set up a booth out of the back of his pickup truck. Next to him, Beth Davis and her 15-year-old son Mark were selling tomatoes, okra, and cucumbers while her husband, David, and their 21-year-old son, Matthew, were still picking corn.
Matthew is the reason the Davis family got involved in growing vegetables. Gardening was his project in the FFA program at Bradley Central High School. He built a greenhouse and nowadays, 3 of their 5 acres on Davis Lane are used for growing 400 tomato plants (30 varieties), and one greenhouse has grown into three.
“We’ve been doing this about five years now,” Beth Davis said. “We’ve always been a gardening family and had a little garden, but our son got into it. He researches and decides which tomatoes we grow. Our produce is not organic, but we don’t use pesticides.”
Beth said they don’t ask a lot of money for their vegetables beyond breaking even. Over the years, they’ve built a small group of customers who look for them each year.
But Maria, who did not give her last name, said she has not developed vendor preferences during the five or six years she has shopped at the farmers market. Barclay’s peaches looked good to her, so she bought some from him.
Barclay, who is a tool-and-die maker by trade, decided to sell vegetables, honey and watermelon this year after his knee surgery did not go as well as he had hoped.
“I did this for my FFA project in Monroe Area High School north of Athens, Ga.,” he said.
He also operates Mill Country Store in East Ridge.
The Bradley County Farmers Market on Peerless Road is now open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7 a.m. until everyone goes home.