The Ridge Ferry Park Farmers Market introduces fresh, natural produce

By Megan Nichole Broome
Marketing Intern

Wholesome, all-natural produce is ripe and ready-to-eat at the annual Farmers Market located at Ridge Ferry Park at the Farmers Market Pavilion.

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Onions and eggplant are some of the many different kinds of fresh produce at the Ridge Ferry Farmers Market.

Open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. until October 1, the market offers a variety of fruits and vegetables for all taste buds including tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, okra, beans, peas, green beans and different kinds of corn.

Patrons from the Rome-Floyd community and surrounding areas set up booths at the market, selling precious cargos of natural produce they nurtured with care and perseverance.

Pursuing a healthy lifestyle

Reflecting on the health benefits of gardening, Kenny Herron, a 3-year veteran of the Farmers Market, explained that gardening is a great way to reduce stress while also keeping busy.

“[It] gives me something to do,” said Herron as he organized the tomatoes on his produce stand.

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Emily Rose describes different kinds of corn.

Herron grows different kinds of produce including tomatoes, green beans, onions, potatoes, squash and peppers. He eats a portion of what he grows, while canning and selling the rest at various markets.

Charles and Heather Holtzclaw pride themselves on growing wholesome produce that does not contain preservatives or chemicals. The vegetables taste better than store-bought and are a lot healthier, added Heather Holtzclaw.

The Holtzclaws have sold cucumbers, tomatoes, okra, squash and beans at the Ridge Ferry Farmers Market for 3 years, and are well known for having homemade pickles made from the cucumbers they grow.

Nature’s sweetener is the outcome of Wallace and Gloria Cook’s hard work, who sell honey from a hive located on their farm. They sell this healthy, alternative sweetener at the Ridge Ferry Park Farmer’s Market and various other markets around the community.

Mixing it all together

How many creative ways are there to eat produce? Many people add their fruits and vegetables to various recipes.

For Marley Bowen, Ray Stepps and Debbie Stepps, restaurant-style salsa adds some spice to their produce business. Working together, they grow and pick tomatoes, jalapenos and other crops to process into a delectable, mild salsa that contains no additives. They also make a relish, the perfect condiment for hotdogs and other grilled summertime food.

Soup, pickled eggs and jelly are on the menu at Sue Edwards’ booth. Using peas, different kinds of beans, tomatoes, onions, corn and other delectable crops, Edwards makes homemade soup and sells it at markets around the community.

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Sue Edwards helps a customer choose a flavor of jelly.

Edwards also makes jam, jelly and preserves with various fruits and explained the difference between the three: Jelly is made solely from the juice of fruit, whereas jam is made from the seeds of fruit and preserves are made using the entire fruit.

 

Growing produce for 55 years, Edwards learned the trade by watching her grandmother and became inspired to adopt the tradition herself.

Making a living

 Many people rely on their gardens as a source of income as well as providing food for their families, so farming is a vital necessity.

Farmer Bruce Mealer owns Ryo Mountain Farms in Fair Mount, Ga., so he knows all too well the importance of farming to maintain a living.

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The Farmers Market at Ridge Ferry has fresh, natural produce.

Mealer described himself as a “workaholic,” traveling around Georgia to sell his produce at the Ridge Ferry Farmers Market in Rome, while also selling in Cartersville, Jasper and Calhoun. He eats a portion of the produce he grows and does not use any sprays or pesticides.

A natural beauty product                        

 Crops do not have to be solely for eating. Katie and Jared Dusthimer have created a way to harness the soothing and healthy vitamins and minerals in nature to make different kinds of soaps.

Goat Milk Soap is created from freshly milked goats on Katie and Jared’s farm. Lavender is grown on the farm and used as a scent. There is a four-to-six week curing period before the soap is complete, but the result is a natural way to keep skin healthy.

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Jared Dusthimer (left) and Katie Dusthimer explain to customers the process for making Goat Milk Soap.

Katie Dusthimer described that they make unscented as well, and the goat milk is excellent for people with sensitive skin. “[There is] something for everybody,” she added.

With nature’s beauty being used as nourishment as well as a natural cosmetic, there is most certainly something for everyone at the good ole fashioned farmers market.

To learn more about the bi-weekly Farmers Market at Ridge Ferry Park, visit Rome-Floyd Park and Recreation’s website at rfpra.com.

 

 

 

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