Now open – Athens & Watkinsville
Local vegetables, meat, eggs and more!
Most people buy their eggs from the grocery store but, you might want to try another option — buy them at the local farmers market. Some of the best eggs available are from the Pastures of Rose Creek in Watkinsville. Their free-range chickens roost in the Egg Mobile, a mobile chicken coop that is moved daily to make sure the chickens have plenty to eat in the pasture. This is truly free range. The eggs are about twice the price of grocery store eggs, but if you want the freshest and best tasting eggs, it’s worth the extra cost.
The Oconee Farmers Market is located in the courthouse parking lot in downtown Watkinsville. It has been open from April-November every year since 2004. The market is open from 8-1 on Saturday and in 2012, the Tuesday evening market was started. Their purpose is to provide a place for local farmers and producers to sell direct to the consumer. A wide variety of vegetables, baked goods, cheese, honey, soaps and meats can be found at the market. Other items available include painted gourds, jewelry, scarves and blankets. The vendors must be the original producer of items being sold and be from within a 100 mile radius of Oconee County.
Last summer, we spoke with several vendors to learn a little more about their businesses. The owner of Hallowed Hawk Farms said they are trying a new method with their lamb production this year. Instead of raising all the lambs in the spring, they raised 12 in the spring and will have 12 more in the fall. They grow them for 6 months but could hold them a little longer to get a larger yield of meat. They believe the smaller lambs have better flavor.
According to the Rose Creek farm manager, eggs stay fresh longer if they are not washed. There is a protective coating that keeps them sealed and prevents bacteria from penetrating the shell. Rose Creek eggs are unwashed, the yolk is a little darker than eggs we’re used to seeing… and they have a wonderful flavor.
We also learned from the owner of Seven Crows Farm that mushrooms usually grow in the spring and fall, but can grow at other times when we have unusually mild weather.
The Athens Farmers Market is open at various locations and days through the summer. Another one of my favorite markets is the UGArden on Milledge Avenue just past the Botanical Garden. They are open on Thursday from 4:30-6:30, but you need to get there early because they sell out fast.
There are plenty of road side stands around Athens, mostly selling local produce. To be sure it’s locally grown, the farmers market group has requirements for products to be local to our area.
Let us know if you know about other markets we didn’t mention, and we’ll add them to my list.