In case you haven’t heard, Barrow County now has its very own farmers market.

Located behind the historic courthouse in Winder, the market runs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and offers fresh veggies and other food produced by local growers.

If farmers markets are a new experience for you, here are some “egg-cellent” (Get it? Because you can buy eggs at the farmers market…) reasons to be a market patron.

Eating seasonally tastes better

Local produce is seasonal. While tomatoes may be in a grocery store year-round, they are also shipped in from hundreds if not thousands of miles away, and that process often sacrifices flavor when opting for shipping ease.

Tomatoes at the farmers market will be ready mid-summer, and the thought of that first juice dribbling down your chin, standing over the kitchen sink because it’s too good to make it to the plate, tomato sandwich of the season is making my stomach growl and my mouth water. Eating food that is fresh and in season from a Barrow County farm will make you never want to look at a bland January tomato again.

Following the food season means something fresh and new every month or so; greens and roots to fruits and back again, freshly-picked and flavorful.

Find something new

As they say, variety is the spice of life, and the farmers market is the best place to experiment with something new.

Whether it is a new variety of an old favorite (think luscious salanova lettuce), a new baked good (par-baked pizza dough for dinner in less than 15 minutes), or new blend of coffee (Saturday Morning blend for the weekend win), you can find something exciting at the market. You are likely to come across vegetables you have never tried before. Vendors are knowledgeable and can tell you how to bring your farmers market find to the peak of deliciousness, and online cooking demos will give you even more yummy ideas. You may be surprised at what makes it into your seasonal cooking rotation.

Learn something new

Farmers markets are often more than just a pop-up store, and the same is true of the Barrow County market. While coronavirus has put a damper on some planned outreach, check the Barrow County Facebook page for recipes and kids’ activities related to gardening, nutrition and the environment. Local nonprofits will be at the market in upcoming months to discuss their programs, and look forward to interactive educational booths as soon as good sense and the CDC allows.

Local food supports local economies

The economy is presently on the long list of things we are all worrying about, but shopping at the farmers market is an easy way to support your local economy.

Vendors that sell at the market are local farmers and small businesses; money spent with them stays local and circulates locally more than money spent at corporate locations.

Build community

Studies have shown that people have more conversations at farmers markets when compared to the grocery store.

Ideally, right now those conversations are taking place six feet away and with masks, but in the long run we know that connection, and connection to the community you live in is important. The farmers market is a place for community members to bond and for a place like Barrow County, whose population is changing rapidly, to maintain a little bit of small town friendliness and charm. And whoever imagined that a chore like grocery shopping could feel like happy hour with friends?

Whatever your reason for shopping at the market, you are guaranteed to find something fresh and delicious. Warm and fuzzy feelings from doing good by your local farmers and community are free.

See you Saturday!

Alicia Holloway is the Barrow County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension agent. She can be reached by e-mail at aholloway@uga.edu, by phone at 770-307-3029, or by stopping by the County Extension Office at 90 Lanthier St., Winder. Follow Barrow County Extension on Facebook @BarrowCountyExtension.

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