Food & Nutrition
Exploring local sustainable food options Exploring local sustainable food options

At the Farmers Market

Explore Atlanta’s local, sustainable food options
Atlanta's Farmers Markets

By Morgan A. McLaughlin McFarland

With water shortages threatening food production in several states and a growing awareness of the potential health risks of some genetically modified food, eating local food has never been more important. Locally produced organic or sustainably farmed food lowers fossil fuel consumption and minimizes pollution from pesticides. And it's not just good for the environment – it's good for the economy too. A University of Georgia study found that if Georgians spent just $10 a week on meat and dairy produced in-state, over $1.9 billion dollars would flow back into the Georgia economy. So what are you waiting for? Start exploring your sustainable Atlanta food options today!

 

Better For You, Better For The Environment

When it comes to farming, bigger is definitely not always better. Industrial agriculture, which produces the majority of the produce, meat, dairy and eggs consumed in the United States, contributes significantly to pollution of the air, water and soil. Most industrial farms grow only a single variety of any plant that's bred for hardiness and high yield rather than superior flavor or nutrition. The pesticides and herbicides used to maintain these crops also carry health risks. The World Health Organization recently suggested that the herbicide Roundup could be linked to an increase in cancer. Animals kept in inhumane, often unclean, conditions are at a higher risk of passing foodborne illnesses like E. coli and salmonella.

SB1So if you're looking for diverse, tasty food choices that are as healthy as they are delicious, you have a better chance of finding those on small, organic farms close to home. Most organic farms are independently owned and operated family farms of 100 acres or less. Many small farms in Georgia use organic and/or sustainable farming methods to bring healthier produce, eggs, meat and other produce to restaurants and markets across the Atlanta area. Sustainable agriculture relies on environmentally friendly methods, rather than chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and produces more biodiverse crops, including heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. Since all products labeled "organic" must be certified by the National Organic Program, consumers know those products they buy have been grown in a sustainable way, without the use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Organic certification isn't the only way to assure your food is sustainably grown, however. "We always tell folks that the best way to know how your food is produced is to know your farmer," says Brooke Hatfield, Communications Director at Georgia Organics, which has partnered with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to reimburse the full cost of organic certification for all Georgia farmers seeking it for the first time. "Lots of great farmers who use organic practices aren't certified, and they're often happy to show you around their farm and talk about how they grow your food. And when you know your farmer, it's easy to ask them whether they're using synthetic inputs on their farms. As more farms harness social media, that's another way for consumers to get insight."

 

fruits-and-vegetablesAtlanta's Farmers Markets

Where can Atlanta residents find this sustainably grown or organic local produce? Luckily for the savvy locavore, the Atlanta area offers many farmers markets. Farmers markets provide a one-stop-shopping experience, where vendors from all over the state and Southeast gather in a single location to sell locally grown produce and other locally produced goods. Find the market nearest to you, and make it a weekly part of your routine. After all, the grocery store won't miss your dollars, but your $20, $30 or $50 will mean a lot to your local farmer every week. Try any of these well-established markets to pick up your local fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy and more.

 

Inside the Perimeter

 

Brookhaven Farmers Market
April – December
Open Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Brookhaven's market has moved locations since last year and is now at University Baptist Church on Dresden Drive. Plus, check out their online seasonal availability calendar for an idea of what produce to expect each week.

Details: 1375 Fernwood Circle NE, Brookhaven, GA, brookhavenfarmersmarket.com

 

Decatur Farmers Market
Year-round
Open Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
(opens at 10 a.m. January to March)

Stop by this market for seasonal produce any Saturday of the year. They also have a Wednesday market day that runs from the spring through December to accommodate more shoppers' schedules. Just be sure you visit the right location for your pickup day!

Details: On Saturdays, 498 N McDonough St., Decatur, GA. On Wednesdays, 308 Clairemont Ave., Decatur, GA. decaturfarmersmarket.com

 

Veggies1East Atlanta Village Farmers Market
April – December
Open Thursdays, 4 – 8 p.m.

Swing by this weekday market on the way home from work. It's located across the street from the Midway Pub and is accessible through the MARTA bus routes 34, 74, 107 and 4. They accept cash, credit, debit and double EBT/SNAP. If you just can't get enough of the local food scene, you can even volunteer at the market or at their vendor farms.

Details: 561 Flat Shoals Ave., Atlanta, GA, farmeav.com

 

Grant Park Farmers Market
April – December
Open Sundays, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

This market, which launched in 2011, takes place at the corner of Cherokee Avenue and Miledge Avenue. It's convenient to the Boulevard and Ormewood stop of MARTA bus route 32, and they accept cash, credit, debit and double EBT/SNAP. In addition to providing healthy, local food, this market focuses on nutrition education and even provides a platform for artists and musicians.

Details: 600 Cherokee Ave. SE, Atlanta, GA, grantparkmarket.org

 

Peachtree Road Farmers Market
April – December
Open Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. (opens at 9 a.m. starting in October)

Peachtree Road Farmers Market, a producer-only market, also offers an extensive event list to add to your day at the market. Coming up this month are chef demos, health screenings, kids' activities and even sign-up assistance for EBT benefits. Find the full event list on their website.

Details: Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, GA, peachtreeroadfarmersmarket.com

 

Veggies2Piedmont Park Green Market
March – December
Open Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

This market, held just inside the 12th Street entrance of Piedmont Park, offers everything from produce to ready-to-eat meals and bath products. Sign up for their weekly newsletter to stay up to date.

Details: Piedmont Park, 12th Street and Piedmont Ave., Atlanta, GA, piedmontpark.org

 

Westside Farmers Market
May – September
Open Sundays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

This market is brand new this season, but it's organized by the veterans at Community Farmers Markets, who produce three other in-town markets. Find it in the Westside Provisions
District on Howell Mill Road and
14th Street.

Details: farmatl.org

 

Outside the Perimeter

 

Alpharetta Farmers Market
April – December
Open Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Running since 2006, this market is sponsored by the Alpharetta Business Association. Free parking is available throughout Historic Downtown Alpharetta.

Details: 21 Milton Ave., Alpharetta, GA, alpharettafarmersmarket.com

 

Heritage Sandy Springs
Farmers Market
April – December
Open Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

This market sits just outside the perimeter and includes more than 45 local vendors, including local jewelers and artists.

Details: 235 Sandy Springs Circle NW, Sandy Springs, GA, sandyspringsfarmersmarket.com

 

Kennesaw Farmers Market
May – October
Open Tuesdays, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.

An average of 30 local farmers and merchants bring local fruits, vegetables, baked goods and other products to this market in Adams Park, now in its 11th season.

Details: 2753 Watts Drive, Kennesaw, GA, kennesaw.com/kennesaw-farmers-market

 

The Marietta Square
Farmers Market
Year-round
Open Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
May – October, also open Sundays, 12 – 3 p.m.

Over 65 local vendors attend this market, which offers a wide variety of produce, including heirloom varieties that you may never see at the grocery store. They offer free parking all day Saturday and Sunday in the two county parking decks.

Details: 65 Church St.,
Marietta, GA, mariettasquarefarmersmarket.com

 

Whistle Stop Farmer's Market
May – August
Open Tuesdays, 4 – 8 p.m.

This market, located in Thrasher Park near Downtown Norcross, brings local food, fun and educational tools to the Norcross community through the market itself and donations to to Norcross Charity Gardens and the Stripling Elementary Garden Club.

Details: 7 Jones St., Norcross, GA, norcrossfarmersmarket.squarespace.com

 

Veggies3Roswell Farmers Market
Daily, year-round
Tuesdays – Fridays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sundays, 12 – 5 p.m.

What this market lacks in size, it makes up for in availability. It's open Tuesday through Sunday and specializes in local organic and biodynamic produce.

Details: Founders Square, 555 S. Atlanta St. #B600, Roswell, GA, roswellfarmersmarket.com

 

Season-Long Support

Another way to support local farmers and enjoy all the benefits of local food is to participate in a CSA program, which stands for community supported agriculture. In a CSA, one or more local farmers offer "shares" of their produce to the public, providing an assortment of locally produced goods on a regular basis. The consumer pays a subscription fee and receives produce, meat or dairy products, eggs, and other goods during the harvesting/producing season. CSAs often provide their goods in the form of a box or basket, which the consumer picks up at one of the listed delivery points, offering an even-more-local alternative. To find active CSA options, including delivery locations in your area, visit localharvest.org or georgiaorganics.org.

So whether your top priority is your own well-being, a thriving local economy or a healthy planet, you can't go wrong by heading to the farmers market or joining a CSA. After all, an apple a day keeps the doctor away – and even better if that apple is from Atlanta's own backyard.

 

Editorial Resources
Brooke Hatfield, Georgia Organics - www.georgiaorganics.org
Sustainable Table - www.sustainabletable.org
Local Harvest - www.localharvest.org