Nancy Peed, chief executive officer, said The Medical Center of Peach County started its own open air market because, “keeping you and your family healthy is our business.”
Even though the Tuesday afternoon market opened late in the season, Peed said she’s pleased with the results after five weeks of operation.
“We just felt like it would be a good community service to offer people fresh fruits and vegetables,” Peed said. “I think we’re going to have it through November.”
Para Vinson, who volunteers as a “peach lady” at the hospital, manages the market, which is open from 3-6 p.m. Vinson runs her own fruit stand, Two Peach Buds, beside the interstate in Byron and has experience managing other markets.
“Obviously, (the market) is about bringing awareness to the hospital,” Vinson said. “But if you never come to this hospital, if you come and just buy produce and help your local people, that’s kind of more important.”
Vinson said she hopes the market, which usually has about 10 vendors, will grow to the point where it can offer cooking demonstrations and canning lessons for patrons.
As many summer markets come to a close, Vinson said she’s counting on the squash, pumpkins, apples and other fall crops to draw new business. She said customers mostly come from the hospital.
“We’re just kind of playing it by ear now,” Vinson said. “Markets take a while. You don’t just start them and you’re going to make a lot of money. Thank goodness the vendors realize that.”
Ayanna Freeman, of Warner Robins, sells Leela’s Body Cocktails, which are hair and body creams she makes out of natural products. The Pan African Festival in Macon last year was her first market, but she has since sold her products at several other markets and retailers. She’s been a vendor at the hospital’s market from its start and said she made about $40 the first week and $50 the second.
“It’s been slow,” Freeman said. “It’s a new market. I didn’t have any expectations.”
It was only Jeff Dumont’s second week in the parking lot selling raw goat milk from his farm in Crawford County. He found out about the market after his wife mentioned signs she saw outside of the hospital on Ga. 247. Dumont blames the slow business on the heat.
“I think when it cools down a little bit, that’s usually when we start seeing more customers,” Dumont said.
Rich Adamson and his buddy, Ed Humphreys, were driving back from a hardware store when they saw the tents in the parking lot by the road.
Adamson, of Fort Valley, said the tomatoes beneath caught his eye.
“We didn’t know (the market) was here,” Adamson said. “(We) just saw it and stopped.”
Adamson was one of a handful of customers who stopped by last week.
“I didn’t even know it was here,” Adamson said before getting into his truck with a hefty bag full of tomatoes and sweet red peppers. “I’ll probably come back.”
To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4382.