When I first moved to Atlanta, I wondered how I could get involved in the hoppin' local food scene. It just so happened that a group of hungry renegades were in the early process of starting a farmers' market in my new zip code. When I signed on in Late April, the tentative launch date was June 5. Not a lot of time, right? Well, when you've got a good team and a great cause, sometimes it's easy to move mountains. Well, easier.
First, you've got to find the farmers, and that's harder than you might think. While there are a lot of fantastic farms in Georgia, with the sonic boom in farmers markets, they are all overextended beyond belief. (Hello! Someone actually has to plant things in between CSA drop-offs and farmers markets, not to mention maintaining the farm, managing the press, and updating the twitter feed.) Needless to say, with our late start in the race, most farms were already booked up for the year and not looking to expand their operation. But how does that old saying go, "If you build it, they will come"? With a little bit of persistence, and a lot of badgering, we finally started to generate some interest. And interest turned into farm visits, and farm visits turned into friendships, and the rest is history.
But farmers aren't the only thing you need to start a market. There's a lot of logistics to consider, as well. In short, the who, what, when, where, and why. Obvious questions for some, but difficult to answer nonetheless. The location was easy: the Frosty Caboose is a great landmark in historic downtown Chamblee that really acts as a "town center" of sorts. Their Greenwood Ice Cream also happens to be out of this world (pistachio and banana pudding, oh my). Not that the ice cream swayed our decision, I swear. To seal the deal, Vintage Pizzeria across the street is providing us with plenty of parking, for which we are incredibly grateful.
With the when and where settled -- Saturdays from 8:30 until 11:30 AM -- the only thing left was to make sure we had all of our (legal) ducks in a row. This meant getting the support from our local government. It just so happens that the city of Chamblee rocks, and our elected officials have been incredibly supportive. That's not to say there haven't been any hurdles, though. There are licenses to apply for, ordinances to follow, and rules in general to adhere to. The key is to always do your homework (who ever thought that little ol' me would be on the phone with the city clerk and the health department in the same hour? Oh, the pressure!), remain patient and calm, and do not under any circumstances try to pull a fast one. So we've studied up, proposed our amendments, now city council here we come!
With the date rapidly approaching (Grand opening June 19!!!), our wheels are really cranking. It takes a village, people. The operations team is finalizing the Policies & Procedures; the marketing team is sending out newsletters, selling raffle tickets, and Facebooking up a storm; and the "culinary coordinator", a.k.a. yours truly, is lining up some fantastic local chefs to show off all of our beautiful Southern produce. And last but definitely not least, the farmers are out watering, feeding, weeding, and nurturing your next meal. I offer a special thanks to them, for they are truly rock stars.
As I'm counting down the days, I hope you'll count down with me. If you live in Atlanta, come out and join us for the big day. For more of the juicy details, check out www.chambleefarmersmarket.com. If you're feeling generous, feel free to sign up for our beyond-belief raffle. As my boyfriend always says, "Be like Spike Lee and 'Do the Right Thing.'"