(Originally published May 10, 2011)
When Oconee County resident Cindy Pritchard planted the first seeds in her garden beds years ago, she likely didn't think the fruits of her labor would spread further than the family dinner table.
There are now 350 oak and sweet gum logs inoculated with skiitake spawn at her family's farm in Oglethorpe County. And the mushrooms are only one of the items that she sells at the Oconee Farmers Market.
Like many vendors, the family started out selling excess produce from their garden, thanks to the encouragement of Pritchard's youngest son, Austin Norris, who was just 10-years-old at the time. Six years later, Pritchard continues the tradition by setting up shop each Saturday behind Eagle Tavern.
"There is such a great family feel and we have such loyal customers," she said.
Her daughter Lexi also exhibits an entrepreneurial spirit. Lexi began selling wildflowers, and this year the six-year-old --who was just a baby when she first came to the market-- has expanded her inventory to include birdhouses that she and her father make out of re-purposed construction materials, Pritchard said.
Along with fresh, dried, and dehydrated shiitake mushrooms, Pritchard sells homemade strawberry jam. Further into the season --when it is too hot for shiitakes to grow-- Pritchard will add potatoes, onions, garlic, peas, and other produce to her stand, she said. In the fall she will even bake pumpkin pound cakes.
Although not organic certified, Pritchard said she follows organic practices.
"We don't grow for mass production," she said. "We grow our favorite things." Produce picked on Friday is sold on Saturday, she added.
Pritchard joined the Oconee Farmers Market's board as a member last year.
"People think that a farmers market is from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but Oconee Farmers Market is up and running for a minimum of 26 weeks each year," she said, something she attributes to greenhouses and other means of production.
Here is a list of other items will bring to the Oconee Farmers Market this Saturday:
- Salad mix
- Snow peas
- Live plants
- Strawberry and mulberry jams
- Sourwood honey with comb
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Grassfed Senepol beef
- Breads and baked goods
- New Orleans muffuletta
- Boiled and fried peanuts
- Pork skins
- Beef jerky
- Pickles on a stick
- Shea butter products