Atlanta’s farmers markets offer something for everyone
Atlanta is a big city, but it’s also a proud local community. One way many Atlantans express their pride in their city is through their devotion to supporting the local food movement.
That is done, in part, through the city’s residents buying produce at the plethora of farmers markets that are located throughout the bustling and exciting city. These markets bring fresh produce and other local goods to the people of Atlanta, who want to eat delicious and healthy foods.
The biggest of these produce destinations is the Atlanta Farmers Market. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the market is home to various produce companies, and also hosts a garden center, as well as wholesale and retail activities. Of course, the market is a major distribution center for fresh produce not only in the southeast, but throughout the United States.
There’s a lot more to Atlanta’s farmers market scene than the biggest one. Many of the city’s markets are open year-round, including the Freedom Farmers Market, located near Freedom Park, which is open Saturdays and offers not only produce, but also prepared foods and pop-up restaurants.
Another popular year-round market is the Grant Park Farmers Market, which is held Sundays in Grant Park, right outside Zoo Atlanta. In addition to buying delicious local fruits and vegetables at the market, Atlantans can learn how to include them in delicious dishes, thanks to weekly chef demonstrations from some of the South’s best chefs.
Shoppers in Atlanta who want organic produce can be found at the Morningside Farmers Market, which requires that all produce sold there be certified organic. It is also open year-round and hosts chef demonstrations.
These are just a few of the area’s farmers markets, which are key to the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s efforts to protect consumers, promote agriculture and support growers.
Agriculture contributes approximately $69.4 billion to Georgia’s economy each year, according to the University of Georgia’s Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development. The success of Georgia’s farmers is due in large part to the state’s climate, which allows for the growth of just about any crop. Of course, Georgia is famous for its peaches, peanuts, and sweet Vidalia onions, but it also grows blueberries, watermelon, cucumbers, sweet corn, Bell peppers, tomatoes, cantaloupes, and cabbage.
Georgia’s Department of Agriculture is also dedicated to promoting specialty crops, which it defines as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture, turfgrass/sod, nursery, and greenhouse crops.” Part of its efforts to promote specialty crops is the 2022 USDA/AMS Specialty Crop Block Grant, which funds projects that “enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.”
“The goal of this grant program is to help fund projects that can produce the highest degree of measurable and impactful benefits to Georgia’s specialty crop producers, in relation to each dollar spent,” said Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black. “We believe this year’s projects will accomplish this and will help move our state forward in the essential and dynamic agricultural industry, with the ultimate benefit going toward every specialty crop consumer.”
Matt Jardina, vice president of general business operation for J.J. Jardina, noted support from the Georgia Department of Ag has helped, and is looking forward to working with Tyler Harper, who will take over for Black next year.
“Our leaders understand agriculture and have lived it, so there are very friendly policies toward industry growth and support for farmers, growers and distributors,” he said. “It would be a challenge to find another state in our country whose leaders are more supportive of the agriculture industry than Georgia. Our newly elected commissioner will be outstanding in terms of growth and doing what is right for business and in turn for consumers.”
And that helps make Atlanta’s produce business even stronger.