"Considering the hot weather and drought this summer, we think things have gone very well," committee secretary Robin Moore said. "Vendors have done well, and the feedback we are getting from consumers is, they are happy to have local produce and baked goods available each week."
The committee met on Monday, Sept. 10, to evaluate the first year of operation on the Salem square, and to plan for the future.
"We intend to stay open on Saturdays, as long as producers have produce to sell," Moore said. "Some producers have planted fall gardens and hope to have pumpkins, greens, purple hull peas and other items well into October."
During the Sept. 10 meeting, the committee decided to establish new fall hours. Beginning Sept. 15, the farmer's market will open an hour later, at 8 a.m., and run to noon A new vendor recently joined the market, a Fulton County resident who raises bees and is selling honey.
"Local honey is one of the things consumers have been asking for, and it should be available for sale at the farmer's market through the fall," Moore said.
On Oct. 6, the day of the festival, regular vendors will be offering produce as usual, but the committee is seeking local artists and crafters to set up booths, and do demonstrations of their art or craft. In addition, local musicians are invited to play, and people who make musical instruments are invited to display their creations.
There will be no charge to set up or to attend the festival. Vendors do not have to make advance reservations. They can just set up on the morning of the festival.
The first meeting to discuss forming a Salem Farmer's Market was held in early March. The Fulton County Extension Service office called the meeting at the request of the Fulton County Master Gardeners. A good crowd of produce growers and consumers attended several meetings, and a Farmer's Market Committee was formed to work out details for a weekly market.
After consulting with Mayor Gary Clayton and County Judge Charles Willett, Pickren Street, on the west side fo the Salem square, was chosen as the market site. It can easily be closed to traffic, and offers ample space for vendors to set up and shoppers to gather.
The first Salem Farmer's Market was held on Saturday, May 12. Except for break for the Salem Homecoming, it has opened every Saturday since.
"I think everybody involved is happy with how it has gone," Agricultural Extension Agent Brad Runsick said. "The drought caused a lot of problems for producers, so we're surprised there is still produce being sold this late in the season."
Two vendors, Amish farmer Vernon Borntrager and Warren Newman and his daughter, Jennifer, of Greasy Creek Farm, have the ability to water from creeks and have fall produce growing. Newman intends to grow several types of greens in his greenhouse.
According to Runsick, most weeks, four to eight vendors have set up to sell produce, and the vendors have been pleased with local sales.
"We are always looking for more vendors, and that will be one of our priorities next year," Runsick said.
According to Moore, one of the people who serves as a market manager, there have been no disputes between vendors or other problems to disrupt the relaxed atmosphere of the farmer's market.
"We are hoping for a good turnout for the Farmer's Market Family Festival on Oct. 6," Moore said. "We want to thank our vendors and our consumers for helping get this market established, and off to such a good start."