In a 2010 study, researchers at the University of Georgia found that if every Georgia household devoted $10 per week to buying Georgia-grown products that would equal 1.9 billion food dollars reinvested back into the state in one year.
One farming family in Powder Springs is benefiting from the trend. Bray Family Farms is a 30-acre farm on Oglesby Road. Owner/farmer Andy Bray, whose grandparents started the farm in 1963, says today they make their living exclusively by selling at local farmers markets. He reports that business has increased significantly in recent years.
“We can hardly keep up,” Bray said. He and his wife sell their vegetables, grass-fed beef and free-range eggs at three weekly markets. Since Marietta began a winter market on the Square, he is able to sell year-round.
Local farmers markets have become so popular, five of Cobb’s six cities have well-attended weekly seasonal farmers markets. The city of Austell stopped conducting a market several years ago, according to city officials.
In addition to the city-sponsored markets, one group of local volunteers formed to organize a convenient place for local farmers to sell their produce. “F.A.R.M.,” located on Cooper Lake Road in Smyrna, was organized by Smyrna resident Dane Lorio.
“Seasonal local produce purchased from the person that grew or raised it simply tastes better. I was spending a lot of time driving to in-town farmers markets on weekends and needed a more convenient location, so I decided to start a market in the Smyrna area,” Lorio said.
Johnny Fulmer, market director for the city of Marietta Farmers Market, says he too has seen an increased demand for locally grown produce, both in purchasing and in restaurants.
“The number of vendors and customers has increased each year, with this year being the largest yet. Our customers are looking for fresh and locally grown produce,” Fulmer said. He added that many of the Marietta Farmers Market vendors also supply local restaurants.
Ann Kirk, who coordinates the city of Smyrna’s Farmers Market, says that its season is off to a great start.
“We had over 600 customers last Saturday, and they all came to buy,” Kirk said.
Truman “Junior” Burger, owner of Burger’s Market, began selling fresh produce at his Canton Highway market in 1972, and is open year-round. He says he has always sold 100 percent locally grown, and he and his wife now co-own the business with their two daughters, Sherilyn and Tina.
“Tomatoes are still our No. 1 drawing card,” Burger said. “In the fall, we get them from Florida, but they are already coming from South Georgia since everything is two weeks early this season.”
FARMERS MARKETS IN THE AREA
* Acworth Farmers Market
4846 S. Main St., downtown Acworth
Fridays, 7 to 11 a.m.
June 1 to Oct. 28
* Kennesaw Farmers Market
2753 Watts Drive, Adams Park soccer field parking lot
Tuesdays, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
May 3 to Oct. 25
* Marietta Square Farmers Market
Mill Street, on the Historic Marietta Square
Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon; Sundays noon to 3 p.m.
April to November
* Smyrna Fresh Market
1275 Church St., parking lot between Smyrna First Baptist Church and Market Village
Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon
May 7 to Fall
* Mableton Farmers Market
5239 Floyd Road, Mable House Complex
Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
May 24 to Sept. 27
* Powder Springs Farmers Market
Marietta Street & Pineview Drive
Powder Springs City Hall Community Development building parking lot
Thursdays, 4 to 8 p.m.
June to September
* Farmers Atlanta Road Market (F.A.R.M.)
2160 Cooper Lake Road SE, Smyrna
St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church
Tuesdays, 4 to 7 p.m.
May to September