When I was a young boy, I spent many a summer’s day at my grandparents’ house, and one of my fondest memories is of shelling pinkeye purple hull peas and dropping them into my grandma’s big aluminum bowl.
Of course, that shelling was in anticipation of a wonderful Southern meal cooked by my grandmother, a meal consisting of farm fresh vegetables sold from the backs of pickup trucks by one of the neighborhood farmers in Crawford County, Georgia.
When my grandmother died a number of years ago, the one item from her home that I really wanted was that aluminum bowl. It brings back memories of good food and special times spent with beloved family members. Simple pleasures always seem to be the best.
I, for one, am very happy that we have a place in town to get locally grown produce each week during the summer months, and I’ve been taking advantage of it. That place is the Dalton Farmers Market on the Dalton Green at 250 North Selvidge Street, and it’s open every Saturday morning from 8:00 until noon through August 27.
The Dalton Farmers Market provides all of us with the chance to purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables and to buy hand-crafted items from local farmers and artisans.
We at the Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership fully support the existence of this farmers market as we continually stress, through our Healthy Lifestyles component, the importance of having fresh produce and of making healthy food choices.
The Dalton Downtown Development Authority (DDDA), under which the existence of the Downtown Dalton Farmers Market falls, is equally as concerned about local residents having access to locally grown produce.
In fact, the DDDA, through a grant they applied for and received, is making it possible for those residents who qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP) benefits to use their SNAP card when purchasing produce at the Farmers Market. Those eligible for SNAP can bring their card to receive “two for one” benefits. For example, for each dollar they spend on fresh fruits and vegetables, they will receive an extra dollar’s worth of produce. The DDDA and we at the NGHP hope this will encourage those who may not have access to reasonably priced fresh fruits and vegetables to gain access to them.
One fun activity for parents of younger children is to bring them to the Dalton Farmers Market occasionally and let them see produce that is for sale outside of their area supermarket.
Unlike during my childhood, many children and young people today seem to be less in touch with where our food actually comes from, and many don’t realize that much of our food is grown almost literally in our own backyard. Coming to the market regularly provides a good opportunity for them to meet the folks who grow and produce the food that ends up on their dinner table.
On any given Saturday, local farmers can be found at Dalton Green Park from 8:00 until noon, selling homegrown tomatoes, okra, corn, cucumbers, onions, squash, zucchini, green beans peaches, berries, and dozens of other fruits and vegetables, including, I hope, pinkeye purple hull peas.
Many also bring canned goods – jellies, jams, eggs and more – to sell as well, and I’ve found everything I’ve picked up so far to be delicious.
Whether you buy your produce from local farmers once a week or go any day of the week to one of our area supermarkets, which, by the way, also do a great job of stocking fresh vegetables and produce, it’s extremely important for one’s health’s sake to partake of a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.
I hope you will join me this summer in buying fresh produce through the Downtown Dalton Farmers Market, and I would recommend getting there early on Saturdays as good, fresh produce tends to go fast. We invite local farmers who would like to sell their produce to give us a call at 706-272-6662.
Happy cooking and healthy eating!