This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
Farmers markets across the state are popping up and bridging the gap between local vendors and consumers. Fairburn Councilmember Hattie Portis-Jones shares the impact the city’s weekly market has on the community.
GC: How was the location for the market selected?
PJ: When looking for a market location, we wanted one that was highly visible, offered indoor restrooms, and a space that could accommodate the number of desired vendors. Luckily, we had a great space in downtown Fairburn, the Frankie Arnold Stage & Courtyard, that offered everything on our checklist.
GC: What impact have the specific themed Farmers Markets had on the marketing and overall feel of the weekly gatherings?
PJ: The weekly themed markets have definitely increased our participation from previous years. Fairburn residents are able to bring their entire family to the market each Friday and enjoy the weekly activities. It’s a family atmosphere and keeps our residents wanting to come back to experience the next theme.
GC: How do you work to attract residents and other neighboring communities?
PJ: This year we tried something different by hosting pop-up markets in the city of Fairburn and in neighboring communities prior to the official start day of our market. These markets were held at local churches and in parks to help get the word out about our market opening day. Social media has also played a big role with spreading the word and educating our residents on the benefits of local produce and adopting a healthy lifestyle. We added a youth gardening program that sparked the youth in our community and their families.
GC: What other positive impacts has the market had on the community and economic development?
PJ: Because our market is held in the heart of Downtown Fairburn, we engage the local businesses in every market including our local pizzeria, dance studio, theater guild and other downtown businesses.
The Fairburn Farmers Market was created to address the issue of accessibility to fresh produce in the South Fulton area and to also provide support to our local farming community. In our efforts to increase accessibility, the Fairburn Farmers Market participates in the Wholesome Wave of Georgia program which allows the market to accept EBT/Food Stamps as a form of payment and doubles each dollar spent using EBT for the shopper. Last year, we exceeded the goal of more than $1,000.00 in EBT purchases.
GC: How do you select the vendors for the Farmers Market?
PJ: We select our vendors through an application process. Also, we conduct research on their products, make visits to local farms and participating farmers markets.
GC: What challenges has the city encountered with the development and implementation of the Farmers Market?
PJ: Having a consistent flow of shoppers and making sure we meet the financial needs of our farmers. Farmers work very hard to have produce for the markets and we want to work just as hard to make sure we have shoppers.