By Phares Sechler
For Farm Carolina
If the mosquitoes chase you out of your own back yard garden, try China Grove’s own Farmers Market at the historic Roller Mill.
Visitors can park along the street and stroll onto the spacious, open market area. Here five vendors from Rowan County display a variety of vegetables and baked goods.
Last Friday, Tina Cherry came to market just to purchase a small basket of muscadine grapes.
Three varieties of sweet potato vines and begonias greet visitors on the south side of the entrance. A very large mass of healthy squash plants is planted on the northern side of the entrance.
One visitor, with two bags of vegetables, waited for her husband to pick up the watermelon at her feet before they went home to savor the purchases.
Alan Goodman cut an 86- pound Carolina Cross watermelon in half and invited taste testers. Kaley Sechler, 6 years old, announced, “My hands are leaking!” as she ate her slice. Linda Burke and Gary Roach enjoyed the last of the cool melon on a hot evening.
Goodman raises the Carolina Cross watermelon and saves the seed for selling and planting. Usually there are only two melons per vine. One vine needs 20 feet of space. There is a 150 pound watermelon at Goodman Feed and Seed.
David Allen had muscadine grapes and slushes for customers. There are usually flowers, blackberries, and other varieties of grapes.
Visitors at the Robert Miller and Sons Produce had tomatoes, Irish, red, and sweet potatoes, okra, onions, corn, red and purple sweet peppers, eggplant, peaches and Asian pears to buy. The Asian pear is a cross between a pear and an apple.
Sweet Pickle Bakery displayed five kinds of bread, cream horns, large cookies, Whoopi Pies, and homemade Granola.
Across the area at brother Mike Miller’s stand, Wendy Yates helped Mary Smith from Kannapolis choose okra for dinner. There were tomatoes, green beans, October beans, muscadines, onions, cucumbers, squash and peaches. Jewell Thompson selected a baker’s dozen ears of corn to take home.
Yorke and brother Chase Reynolds work the 2Pigs Farm together. They bring pesticide- free yellow honeydew melons, squash, zucchini, and eggplant for sale. Sharon Blythe comes each week for a bouquet of sunflowers. The colors of the five varieties of peppers, (Jalapeno, Orange Habaners, Holy Moly, Lemon Drop and Hot Banana Peppers) make up a pretty basket of dark green to orange-red vegetables.
As I left, I had my own treasures to take home: a dark purple eggplant, a variegated sweet pepper and a green pepper. Alan Goodman picked a yellow squash from the entrance garden to put with my vegetables.
The Market at the Mill is open 4 to 7 p.m. every Friday.
Phares Sechler is a Master Gardener Volunteer Class of 2012 with Cooperative Extension in Rowan County.