Citizens browsing the Bishop Farmers Market last week were excited about meeting the people who farm locally grown produce, even though their smiles were obscured by face masks.
In addition to the Oconee Farmers Market every Saturday in front of the Oconee County Courthouse, the town of Bishop holds its own market every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. on the corner of Old Bishop Road and U.S. 441. People are encouraged to social distance and wear masks, and parking is available adjacent to the market.
Joyce Bennett of Shovelbird Acres in Farmington helped start the market. Bennett’s tomatoes have been one of her more popular garden fares, along with her okra, which recently sold out. She also offers lady peas, zipper peas, butter peas, spaghetti squash and jam.
Fellow vendor Kathy Walton sold a slightly different cache of crops, including banana peppers, zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, as well as her daughter and granddaughter’s wire beaded bracelets.
Painter and potter Patti Smith, a friend of Bennett, has been with the market for about five years. She sells her signature colorful terracotta plant pots, as well as galvanized watering cans and vases.
The market has also managed to attract the attention of regional artists, like crochet artist Gina Renay of Sandy Springs. Her booth included projects ranging from dreamcatchers and boho necklaces to small drawstring bags and beach cover-ups.
“I’m from New York, so I’m really a fashion designer,” Renay said, who is constantly crocheting.
More vendors have joined the market within the past few weeks. Austin Martin, the eldest son of Classic City Clydesdales’ Mark and Shannon Martin, offered pickled squash and cucumbers and blackberry and fig preserves.
“In the next few weeks, we’ll have more figs than anyone ever could eat,” Martin said.
University of Georgia senior Alexeia Garnett has sold baked goods, like strawberry cheesecake donuts.
“Last week I brought banana pudding jars, apple pie dessert egg rolls and peach cobbler dessert egg rolls,” she said. Like many of the market’s vendors, Garnett got plugged in by word-of-mouth.
“One of my friends I go to church with lives in Bishop,” Garnett said.
Retired Colham Ferry Elementary School paraprofessional Sally Robinson sells her family’s ming aralia plants.
“[My husband] had had one ming aralia he’d been cultivating for 30 years,” Robinson said. “We’ve never sold them, but we’d give them away as gifts. Our whole front porch was covered with them, so I thought I’d bring a couple down to see if I could find them a new home.”
She explained that the tropical plants can be kept outside under a covered porch. They root easily and they can be easily replicated by taking cuttings from a big one of the plants and then planting it.
“They can grow to a couple of feet. They can be braided,” she said. “You can do so much with them.”
The Bishop Farmers Market will operate through mid-August, contingent on the crop yields and customer turnout, Bennett said.
She was grateful for the welcoming atmosphere and the community support.
“It’s fun,” she said. “We come up here, and we visit with our friends that we’ve met through the years and share recipes and all kinds of stuff...there’s a lot of camaraderie that happens.”