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Fruit of their labor: Growing food in Rockdale
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Few people realize that Rockdale boasts a myriad of local farmers and enthusiasts who specialize in everything from homemade honey to pork to just-picked collard greens, right in your backyard. And supporting local agriculture is not only good for the local economy and environment, it can make your holiday spread the talk of the season this year. Although these growers yield very different results, they can all agree - local produce is unparalleled freshness and flavor.

Because local farms operate on a smaller scale, they can devote more time and energy to ensuring that their products make it to your kitchen as soon as possible.

For instance, rather than spending days being shipped halfway across the globe, rumbling around the backs of delivery trucks or chilling in a gigantic warehouse, vegetables from Frannie's Farm are washed and nestled safely into their crates hours before they are available for purchasing.

"Customers can touch, see, and talk to us," says Fran Surrette, who, with her husband Rockdale Career Academy agricultural instructor Kevin Surrette, operates Frannie's Farm.

This powerhouse farm produces large brown eggs from a variety of chickens, including the rare French Black Copper Marans. They also offer the community top notch onions, tomatoes, okra, corn, peas and butterbeans, collards and other greens, carrots, peppers, and more. They are also willing to work with customers during the off season to get them their fresh produce.

Fran's desire for customers to really connect with their food is typical of farmers who bring their produce to the market. Instead of selecting produce from a shelf, buying from local farms allows you to shake hands with the person whose passion facilitated its creation.

A good way to get local produce, eggs and meats in one easy stop is to sign up for a community subscription association with a farm or a network of farms. The subscription is just that - customers pay a fixed amount per month and pick up a box of fresh seasonal produce and farm products.

Conyers Locally Grown is a small group of farmers that sell their vegetables, herbs, mill products, eggs, fruits, flowers, and transplants. You can place your orders by Tuesday at 8 p.m. and pick them up on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Copy Central, located at 1264 Parker Road Suite A.

Although it's closed for the winter, another good place to start in finding local food sources is the Rockdale Farmer's Market, held at 1400 Parker Road, which offers crisp veggies and creamy concoctions. The market is open from 8 a.m. - noon on Tuesdays and Saturdays from Spring to Fall.

If you're interested in growing your own produce, stop by the local Cooperative Extension Office at 1400 Parker Road is a good place to start for guidance.

The Conyers Backyard Poultry Club also meets every first Sunday of the month at 4 p.m. at the 1400 Parker Road facility if you're interested in learning more about producing your own eggs.

The East Metro Beekeepers Association also meets there as well on the fourth Tuesday of each month. For more information, contact Shipp at 770-843-0313 or

For a list of local farms and their products, click here.