As I began writing today’s Blount County farm and produce report, my mind wandered off in another direction, and I soon found myself thinking about all of the work that goes into farming.Produce doesn’t just magically appear overnight ready for consumption.
From spring to late fall, Blount County farmers are wide open. There are fields to turn and prep, plastic to lay, irrigation to put down, plants and supplies to be ordered, workers to be hired, meeting USDA requirements, completing mounds of paperwork, selling at the markets, farm stands, or arranging transports, and so much more. And, they do this all while trying to keep some normalcy within their own families.
If you have a small or large garden, just think of the amount of work that it takes to plant it, keep it maintained, and harvest the crops. Now multiply this a thousand or more times, and you can only imagine what the area farmers have to deal with on a much larger scale.
I say all this to encourage you to thank a farmer when you visit their farm or roadside stand. Without them, we would not have all of the local and delicious fruits and vegetables to enjoy. Our local farmers do an excellent job of offering quality products despite the hard work and long hours it takes every day.
As we check around the county this week, farmers are reporting the availability of more fresh produce. Squash, cucumbers, and peaches are plentiful and people are gearing up to can pickles, make squash relish, or create some delicious peach pies. Blueberries, nectarines, potatoes, okra, and some peppers are beginning to hit the markets more each week.
Unfortunately, strawberry season has ended at Triple J and Jerry Marsh Farms. With the end of strawberry season, Jerry Marsh Farms has closed their shed for the year, but will have local tomatoes for sale at the market in about a month.
Triple J in Nectar has several varieties of peaches available for sale. They also have plums, okra, squash, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, blackberries, and greenhouse tomatoes. The field tomatoes should be available in a couple of weeks.
Both the Snead and Oneonta locations of Snead Produce have fresh and local green plums, blueberries, peaches, cabbage, squash, red new potatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini available. Their Snead location is at the intersection of Ala 75 and County Highway 278 in the Chevron parking lot, and their Oneonta location is behind the old Hometown Market building.
Out on Straight Mountain, several farmers are reporting plenty of produce available. Allman Farm and Orchard has yellow crookneck squash, Deli King pickling cucumbers, white and yellow sweet onions, and Sureprince and Caroking peaches. Orders can be placed prior to arrival by calling 205- 274-8448. They will have your order ready upon arrival and offer curbside pickup.
Continuing out on the mountain, Baswell Farms are currently picking squash, cucumbers, and banana peppers. Visit them at the roadside stand at the corner of Reneau Road and County Highway 12.
Copeland Farm, located 6.9 miles south of Oneonta on Cliff Springs Road, has now opened their roadside stand and has yellow squash for sale. Other produce will be added as it becomes available.
McCray’s Old Field Farm on Ala 132 still has squash, zucchini, and butternut squash available. They have also added banana peppers and a few tomatoes to their produce mix this week. If you are looking for local homemade jelly, McCray’s Old Field Farm has you covered. Red clover, dandelion, rose petal, honeysuckle, blueberry, and elderberry jelly is on the shelves at the current time. All jellies are made from fruit and plants grown right on their farm.
Hazelrig Orchard in Cleveland has a wide variety of local produce at their roadside stand. They continue to have several varieties of peaches available. There you will also find plums, white-meated nectarines, green tomatoes, several varieties of peppers, yellow squash, and zucchini.
At Whited Farms in Oneonta, peaches, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, sweet peppers, collards, and cabbage are readily available. Much like Triple J and Jerry Marsh Farms, they are at the end of the strawberry season. They continue to offer curbside pickup.
Many of these farmers will also be set up at the Blount County Farmer’s Market at the Blount-Oneonta Agri-Business Center each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m., or earlier if the vendors sell out. There you will find vendor Janet Dooley with her homemade goodies such as jellies, relishes, canned fruits and veggies, and maybe a few fried pies. Her products are made using locally grown produce.