MILLEDGEVILLE — Area farmers will kick off the new year on the healthy foot as they collaborate to offer the community sustainably-grown foods at the first-ever Farmers Market at the Greenway this weekend.
“We were looking for a winter market, and the Greenway seemed like a great place to have it. The holiday market in December was really successful; we had over 250 people there. The overall idea was to come and get food and gifts for Christmas at the market; the concept was really great,” said Dr. Julia Metzker, organizer of the Greenway market. “We’re excited about our partnership with the Greenway; it’s a great space for the market. They’ve been incredibly supportive and they’re interested in becoming long-term partners with the market.”
Farmers from the middle Georgia area will be on site Saturday offering seasonal vegetables, meats and dairy products, including carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, pasture-raised beef, pork, lamb, goat, chicken, jams, jellies, yogurt, cheeses, milk, butter, eggs, artisan breads, scones and even some lettuce and baked goods.
“Despite what many think, winter in middle Georgia is a great time to eat fresh, local food. Our mild winters allow vegetable growers to grow an abundance of fresh tasty greens and root crops,” said Bobby Jones of Babe + Sage Farm. “In addition, fresh artisan breads, handmade jams and jellies, and pasture-raised meat and eggs are available from local farms all year.”
Vendors slated to attend Saturday’s market include The Little Farm, Fort Creek Farm, Babe + Sage Farm, Elm Street Gardens, Three Centuries Farm, East Georgia Produce, Southern Swiss Dairy, Forest Grove Farm, Sparkleberry Market Garden, Evergreen East Farm, Barker Farms and Sparta Imperial Mushrooms.
“All of the vendors in the market are all local growers. They’ve been in other markets around town, including the Tuesday market, and they’ve been selling in Milledgeville for over a year,” Metzker said. “It’s been great weather for growing vegetables this winter.”
To help with the market’s future growth, burlap shopping bags, made from repurposed goat feed bags, will be sold for $10 each.
“Farmers and vendors all got together and recycled bags that hold feed for goats to create shopping bags; they’re really sturdy and really big,” Metzker said. “They will be sold at the market as our fundraiser to help with market promotions and future markets.”
The Greenway market is also seeking volunteers to help with promotions, marketing, fundraising, run the market table, and set up and take down signs on the day of the market.
“We will have a volunteer sign-up sheet Saturday. We would also love to have somebody on site to do kids activities,” Metzker said. “We want to get as much time as we can donated.”
The Farmers Market at the Greenway is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Oconee River Greenway, located off Highway 22 at the River Bridge. The new market will continue on the third Saturday in February and March before going weekly in April and thereafter.
“After the market Saturday, we will get together with all of the vendors to talk about how to organize and progress the market. We don’t have much way of funds because we want funds to go toward promotions. Implementing SNAP benefits is definitely on our agenda. The state is coming out with a new program, so we’re hoping to get some financial assistance to buy the wireless machine. We will also pursue WIC benefits,” Metzker said. “I think a lot of people think that it’s winter and nothing is happening at farms. It’s amazing how much can grow in Georgia at this time of year. People should definitely come down and learn about what can be grown in the winter.”
For more information about the market, to become a vendor or sponsor, or to donate funds, call Chelsea Losh of Babe + Sage Farm at (478) 628-9059, or like the Farmers Market at the Greenway Facebook page.
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