They come between 4 and 7 p.m. Thursdays to purchase homegrown produce - juicy red tomatoes, tender green beans, yellow corn, squash and a variety of other vegetables.
Shoppers can also find beef and lamb, bread, jams jellies, honey, eggs, flowers and herbs at the local market, which opened in 2010. Initially a small venture for local growers, it quickly blossomed into an event that drew people from not only the Rockmart and Polk area but also adjoining counties and beyond.
“We are now receiving calls from people in Acworth, Cartersville and Rome,” said Mecca Jackson Lowe, who is credited with the idea to open a market designed to showcase locally grown produce.
She said people are seeking to purchase vegetables at hometown markets, which provide an alternative for what can be bought in local stores.
Lowe is pleased with the response to the market and emphasized that all vendors seem to be doing a brisk business.
A newcomer to the local scene is Susan Breen, manager. She met Mecca about three years ago while organizing the Dallas Farmers Market.
She visited Rockmart during 2010 and after discussion decided to be the local manager.
“We are a produce only market,” she said. “To be a vendor you must make or grow the product you offer the public.”
She said no one is allow to bring vegetables from other markets and resell them in Rockmart.
“From experience, I have learned that some people will attempt to bring items to small markets claiming they have grown them,” she said.
One of the red flags that alerts a market manager is when a vendor brings corn or a cantaloupe that is uniform is size and squeaky clean.
“If you have a basket of tomatoes or squash all the same size and color, you know it is commercially grown,” she said. “Local farmers don’t do it that way. You will have a few things that are not perfect and some may have dirt on the onions.”
Operation of “Under the Oaks” market has changed. A board of directors has been formed to help with planning, operation and marketing. They include Denise Bell and Eric McDonald, Polk County Chamber with Tamaka Hudson as consultant; Ricky Ensley, Extension coordinator; Mecca Jackson Lowe and Tommy Walker, vegetable growers.
Applications to sell at the Rockmart Farmers Market are available from the Polk County Chamber of Commerce at 604 Goodyear St. Rockmart, GA 30153 or by email to RockmartFarmersMarket@gmail.com. Applications must be completed and returned to the Chamber at least two weeks prior to the date the applicant wishes to begin selling.