New farmers market in town
Every second Saturday of the month, local farmers gather in the First Presbyterian Church parking lot in Milledgeville to sell savory, pasture-raised meat, homegrown vegetables and herbs, eggs, cheese and other organic treats.
Sprouting from the success of the Local Harvest food fair that occurred in October, the Fall Line Farmers Market was made possible by Live Healthy Baldwin, the Milledgeville Community Garden Association, First Presbyterian Church and a few passionate farmers.
Vendors at the market consist of farmers in Milledgeville and other surrounding areas including Babe + Sage farm from Gordon, Three Centuries Farm from Sparta and The Little Farm from Gray.
The Little Farm, which is taken care of by “the children,” produces a wide array of goodies ranging from naturally grown vegetables to freshly baked bread, and they are in the process of getting their hands on some blue eggs to sell at the market. Kristen Sorenson, whose mother manages The Little Farm, believes it is important to eat organically.
“There are not many healthy options out there, so it is good to eat all organic,” Sorenson said. “I used to be a die-hard non-organic person, but then I realized there are about 14 different pesticides in an apple. I thought to myself, ‘My son is eating applesauce with poison in it,’ so now I make my own baby food.”
Although the newly formed market is not well known yet, it is gaining popularity.
“People are really getting into organic food,” Hunter Bean, a farmer at The Little Farm, said.
One of the joys of going to the farmers market is connecting with the vendors. Bean is unlike most of the vendors; he is 12 years old and currently Georgia’s youngest egg handler. When asked questions about the market, it was obvious he was not there because his parents forced him, but because of his genuine passion for farming. With his eagerness to talk about The Little Farm, Hunter was just as well versed in the ways of farming as any of the other vendors.
It is this connection with the vendors, as well as the food, that keeps students like senior rhetoric major Melanie Hatch coming back to the market.
“I most look forward to seeing familiar faces and getting food that I know is sustainable and about a million times tastier than anything you can get at the supermarket,” Hatch said.
The Fall Line Farmers Market appears to have everything: nice people, great food and an inviting atmosphere. But the only thing that seems to be missing is students. Megan Fowler, farmer at Elm Street Gardens in Sparta and whose husband runs Three Centuries Farm, does not seem surprised by the low number of students.
“The number of students that come out is what I expect it to be,” Fowler said. “But the ones who do come out are the same students we see every time.”
One reason for the small number of student attendees could be the expected high price of homegrown food. But it is surprisingly easy to walk away with several products for relatively cheap.
“It can be really inexpensive,” Hatch stated. “During the summer I eat really well for about $10 a week.”
Fowler suggested an exciting way for students to incorporate going to the farmer’s market into their lives.
“I went to school in Athens, and one of the things to do was go to the farmers market,” Fowler said. “It was a social thing. You would wake up and go get coffee with your friends, go to the farmer’s market, and then make a big dinner with what you bought.”
The Fall Line Farmers Market will have its grand opening April 14, where it will transition from a monthly market to a weekly market. Debbie Harshbarger, community garden association board outreach chair, helped put the market together and had a hand in deciding when and how often the market will occur.
“It was urged to offer the market on a weekly basis,” Harshbarger said. “Research was done to make sure the new market does not impact the existing farmers market (Milledgeville Marketplace). It was discovered that it is typical to offer a market both midweek and on Saturday.”
After the market’s official opening in April, it will continue weekly until October or November, depending on the weather. It is important for the market to remain in the Milledgeville community and provide both students and citizens with healthier options.
“By eating organically, you are supporting a sustainable farming practice for the Earth and keeping carcinogenic chemicals out of your body,” Hatch explained.
With bags full of delectable, organic food, one leaves the Fall Line Market satisfied, proving that the market is not only a place to purchase healthy food, it is a place to encounter unique stories and friendly faces.