The minute Rosa Williams saw the blackberries she knew she wanted them. And they brought back some happy memories for her as she clutched the bag.
“When I was a little girl we used to go through the woods and pick them and eat them,” she said, laughing. “It’s been a long time.”
That organic fruit from My Aiken Veggies was among a dozen offerings at the Veggie Truck Farmers Market on Tuesday in A.L. Williams Park on Broad Street in Harrisburg. The event was dubbed the Mid-Summer Picnic, but the Farmers Market is there every Tuesday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. through October. It is sponsored by students from Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, Augusta Locally Grown and Good Neighbors Ministries.
The purpose is to raise “awareness that it is here and it is available and that it is good,” said market manager A.J. Evans, a member of the 2017 medical student class. The market offers things such as cooking demonstrations for kids “to let them know that just because it is green doesn’t mean it tastes bad,” he said. “Green can be good.”
Evans and his class proudly displayed some of their own produce of squash, cucumbers and tomatoes grown in the class garden. Getting to know the people who grow the produce is a different and more fulfilling experience for chefs such as Charleen Tinley, who was doing a cooking demonstration and handing out samples of gazpacho, or what she has taken to calling Summer Vegetable Soup to demystify it.
“I’ve gotten to know all of the farmers,” she said. “I’ve been to their farms, I’ve walked the fields with them. With these farmers I sort of feel like I am in the journey with them. I don’t think anything gives me more joy (than) to know I am working with the farmer and I am going to have happy people eating my food.”
The market is more than a chance for people to stop and get fresh produce. They can also get tokens to double the purchase they make with their food stamp benefits, said Kathleen O’Brien of My Aiken Veggies.
“It’s a great deal,” she said. “And it helps lower-income folks eat healthier and better.”