Sometimes I think there are more farmers markets than farmers these days. When I first moved to Atlanta in the late 1990’s, the Morningside Farmers Market was the only game in town. But what a game. All organic. Friendly local farmers. It was where I tried my first Black Krim heirloom tomato and my first Georgia blueberries. I learned to get there early or I’d never get my hands on a dozen farm eggs.
The Piedmont Park Green Market soon followed. I went a few times and found the produce less interesting, but the add-ons a draw. One could get a nice pastry and coffee while shopping, and then pick up a bag of cookies and some dried pasta.
But now it seems the biggest player among the intown markets is the Peachtree Road Farmers Market, where dozens of vendors sell produces, fresh cheeses and meats, frozen tamales, handicrafts and all kinds of food to consume on site — from Holeman & Finch Bread Co. croissants to Souper Jenny chowder.
And there are more:
The East Atlanta Village Farmers Market now has the inexhaustible Judith Winfrey of Love is Love Farm at the helm. The Decatur Farmers Market offers a small selection of organic vegetables and bread. The East Lake Farmers Market provides an alternative for its underserved community; when former president Jimmy Carter showed up at the market his picture was soon all over Twitter. The Studioplex Green Market, which debuted last year in the Old Fourth Ward, brings in produce from Rabun and Habersham counties.
Are there others? Assuredly. I haven’t even mentioned the multitude OTP.
This is all great news, even if at this point in early spring we’re still seeing a lot of turnips, kale, onions and salad greens. Not to belittle these tasty vegetables, but it can be hard to communicate the joys of eating seasonally when the season offers only the greenery of childhood nightmares.
Last Saturday was the beginning of my market season. My heart lies with Morningside because I know the farmers, I anticipate the seasons and always look forward to the after-market trip to Alon’s for bread, cheese and coffee. But only Woodland Gardens had the bountiful display that got people in that special veggie mood. The carrots and leeks were bundled and piled just so like the greengrocer produce in the Richard Scarry children’s books. There were also mounds of the first tomatoes of the season on display. So the line for Woodland Gardens stretched through the market, while the other producers sat by. I waited for a while and gave up, opting instead for a lovely selection of salad greens, onions and turnips from Crystal Organics. There was also some green garlic, which felt like a find. Yet I was too late for eggs: not a one in the market. I wish it had a bit more of the party atmosphere at Peachtree Road, but then again, tomato season is soon upon us.
For contact information on these and other area markets, go here.
And check out Rana Cash’s tips for organic vegetable shopping on a budget.