Farmers Market keepin' it fresh

Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Top, Mark Ivie, right, samples one of Tommy Woodward's peaches while they wait for customers at the Farmers Market Friday morning. Below, Abby the terrier keeps watch over the plants and vegetables her owner, Vickie Wilburn, was selling at the Farmers Market.

Local produce was on sale in Rock Creek Park on Friday morning when the Farmers Market opened for the first time this summer.

"This is a good turnout for the first day," said Vickie Wilburn, who was offering plants from her greenhouse on Ostella Road, south of Cornersville. She was also selling two kinds of cucumbers, and green bell peppers, assisted by Abby, her terrier, truck guard and close observer of customers.

Wilburn, along with Tommy Woodward and Judy Haynes, is a member of the market's board of directors.

All three directors were there Friday. Haynes said she'd "robbed the hives" she has in town to get honey to sell. She also had a big bucket of turnip greens that were a garden bonus. They'd come up on their own. Haynes' big honey harvest will be later this summer.

Apart from the six hives in town, she and her husband have 30 hives at their farm on Wade Brown Road, and their son has about 20. When David Haynes retires from Kantus he wants to "do bees all the time."

Do bees require that much care? Oh yes, exclaims Judy, "They're like children, they have to be watched all the time."

Woodward was selling peaches, blackberries, squash, beets, peppers, and early apples.

Mark Ivie, a first-time vendor in 2009, has now joined forces with his neighbor, Dwayne Mathews, and between them they have 1,000 tomato plants, of at least 15 different varieties, as well as an abundance of other vegetables. The team plans to sell at the Columbia Farmers Market, and also at Whole Foods.

There was a steady flow of customers at the pavilion in Rock Creek Park, even at 6:30 a.m., when the morning was cool and fresh and the dew was still heavy on the grass.

"This may be the best thing we do in town," said Rev. Steve Thomas. "It's a great opportunity to meet farmers and get produce grown in Marshall County. It's a good thing all round."

"I appreciate my farmers," said Sandy Humphrey of Lewisburg, who bought fresh onions from Bryant McMillan of Verona Caney Road. Humphrey has been "real sick" with cancer, but she was well enough Friday to visit the Farmers Market. Her illness forced her to retire from a job with the Columbia Fire Department, Humphrey said. The firefighters haven't forgotten her, though. On July 15 they're holding a benefit to raise money for her insurance and medical bills. Meanwhile, a good potato salad with some of those fresh onions was perfect for the holiday weekend.

"This has been my way of life," said McMillan, talking about his garden that provides vegetables for his family, plus enough to give to friends and neighbors, and to sell at the Farmers Market. "It was my way of life growing up. Then you made a living; now you make money."

The McMillans have already enjoyed an early harvest of spinach, onions, broccoli, lettuce and radishes, and are now looking forward to tomatoes and the other summer vegetables.

The Farmers Market is open every Friday from 6 a.m. to noon at the pavilion in Lewisburg's Rock Creek Park and will continue until October. It might also open on Tuesday afternoons later in the season.