"I was saying to myself (when asked), 'I have too many irons in the fire already,' but I agreed because I would really like to see this happen," Yates said.
The committee, formed in early March to develop by-laws and a plan to move forward, met on Monday, March 26. A group headed by Beverly Reeves of Glencoe has met and worked up a preliminary set of by-laws -- the rules that would guide the farmer's market operation -- which were presented to the committee. The committee favors initially opening a farmer's market on the Salem square on Saturdays.
While many have expressed that the square -- Salem's historic government and commercial hub -- is a logical place for a farmer's market, there has also been concern there would be danger to shoppers, since vendors would be setting up on through streets.
Committee members discussed a system in which vendors would back into parking spaces around the courthouse -- requiring customers to gather on the courthouse grounds and shop from sidewalks instead of the streets.
The committee also discussed the possibility of using the Methodist Church parking lot or other off-street lots for customer parking.
"Our next step will be to meet with city officials to discuss our ideas, and determine whether any ordinances will need to be passed to allow the farmer's market to be held," Yates said.
There was discussion as to whether a farmer's market would have a negative effect on businesses around the square. Most feel bringing vendors and shoppers to the square will give "a shot in the arm" to local businesses.
Besides creating an exchange between vendors and shoppers, farmer's market supporters also see the market as a venue for special events -- like a barbecue cookoff, for example -- which could help attract even larger crowds.
"I think everything is coming together and we will see a (Fulton County) farmers's market by early summer," Yates said.
Established farmer's markets in other counties are gearing up for their season.
The Melbourne Farmer's Market held a meeting on Thursday, March 29 at city hall to get organized.
Following a potluck dinner, members elected officers.
On Saturday, April 8 the farmer's market organization will open its site for a yard sale, free coffee and brochures promoting the market.
"We began five years ago and it has been touch and go at times, but we are still going. We are always looking for more vendors," Leveda Tate said. Tate is the secretary for the Izard County Extension office, and sells produce and baked goods at the Melbourne Farmer's Market.
It is located on Main Street (Highway 69) at Fudge Memorial Park.
At the height of the growing season, the market is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, beginning at 7 a.m. The market flies an "Open" flag and sets out signs along the street when produce is available and the market is in operation.
"We have learned, from past experience, not to set an opening date, because it all depends on the weather and when produce becomes available," Tate said. "We expect some greens and spinach will be ready soon, followed by radishes and onions."
The Melbourne Farmer's Market plans another pot luck in May to plan for the season. Participants have been discussing ways to make their site more attractive. It is at the old ball park, with a chain link fence in front of it.
Tate said her family has sold purple hulled peas and watermelons on the Salem square in the past. She believes, if traffic issues can be addressed, it would be a good place for a farmer's market.
"We would like to hold our market at the (Izard County) courthouse, but there just is not enough parking available," Tate said.
The Calico Rock Farmers Market, at the intersection of State Highways 5 and 56, at the edge of the historic business district, hopes to open in mid-April.
Initially, it will open at 9 a.m. on Saturdays, but some vendors also set up on Wednesdays when gardens are really producing.
"We are already getting some vendors now," said Market Manager Rich Fischer. "We have a good collection of vendors and a lot of regular customers. It's a great place for people to get together to visit."
Cherokee Village, which opened a farmer's market last year, is working on launching its second season. An opening date has not been announced. The market, located just off Highway 62-412 on Tekakwitha, is unique in that it operates out of a metal building the city owns near the Street Department.