Clarkston Farmers Market serves local neighborhood through the summer with stands for craft and produce vendors
The season for fresh food is here. The Clarkston area is flush with fresh food growers and experienced farmers, and for the second year, this community will have a place to gather and share local produce.
Starting this week, local farmers, craft makers, musicians and neighbors will gather every Sunday at the Clarkston Farmers Market to buy and sell produce, spend time outdoors, and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
The Farmers Market will be open every Sunday this year from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., starting on April 21st and lasting through October. The Market began monthly last year in the soccer fields behind the Clarkston Community Center, and will continue at that location this year.
The Farmers Market accepts EBT food stamps, and doubles their value. For every one dollar in food stamps exchanged, shoppers can purchase two dollars of Farmers Market products.
At the market, farmers sell familiar produce like cabbage, parsley, carrots, beets, spinach, brussel sprouts, lettuce, and Swiss chard, as well as less familiar produce like roselle, a relative of hibiscus that is grown by many refugee growers, and numerous varieties of mustard greens and eggplant.
Janice Giddens, the Food Security Coordinator at the Clarkston Community Center, who organizes the Farmers Market, said that Clarkston is an ideal location for a farmers market.
“There’s so much culture here, and so much culture around food and international food,” she said. “Food is a way for us to stay engaged with our culture, to share our culture and learn new things about another culture.”
The first markets last year cultivated a festive atmosphere, with a Burundi drummers’ group, basket, pottery and jewelry makers, food stands, and cooking demonstrations given by Giddens or one of her dietetic interns. Last year, on average, around 400 people would turn out for each monthly Farmers Market. Vendors included growers from the Global Grower’s Network and the volunteers and community members who tend the Community Center’s own plots.
Most farmers in the area use what they produce to supplement their table. At the Jolly Avenue Community Garden, plots are passed from family member to family member. Because so many refugees come from rural, agricultural communities, farming is a familiar and empowering practice.
Steve Miller, a local farmer who also owns a landscaping business, says he has been farming since childhood, and that he is still learning new tricks and techniques from his Hispanic and refugee farm aides.
“The guys working for me are professionals. There are some refugees and some Hispanic people who grew up with farming,” he said. “It feels like something that is in your blood, like something you are supposed to do.”
Karen Mann, the Market Manager for the Global Grower’s Network, said that they encourage their growers to bring produce to the market. Their farms include a Burundi womens’ farm called Umarima Farm near Avondale, a farmers’ training farm called Bamboo Creek in Stone Mountain, and two community gardens, among others.
“I think the Clarkston Farmers Market is a good opportunity to cross some boundaries and try things you otherwise wouldn’t,” said Mann. “We all have different tastes in food, but we all agree that we like fresh food.”
The Farmers Market will debut on April 21st at 10 a.m. For more information, visit the Clarkston Farmers Market Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ClarkstonFarmersMarket, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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