Freedom Farmers Market's Poncey-Highland debut

The Carter Center plays host to farmer-run market on Saturday

For many years, there were only a handful of farmers markets in Atlanta. But once celebrity chefs rose to fame in the early 2000s, and the Food Network made cooking with artisan ingredients trendy, more farmers markets started opening around Atlanta. Veteran operations such as the 19-year-old Morningside Farmers Market suddenly found themselves in friendly competition with newcomers such as the Peachtree Road Farmers Market, the Grant Park and East Atlanta Village farmers markets, and others. This weekend, the Freedom Farmers Market is scheduled to debut at 9 a.m. on Sat., March 1, at the Carter Center.

The market is conveniently located near the Beltline, Freedom Park Trail, and at the intersection of five different neighborhoods. Instead of an administrator or market manager, the Freedom market is run by a small group of farmers who wanted more "freedom" in the who, what, where, and how they sell their goods. Those farmers include Celia Barss of Woodland Gardens, Charlotte and Wes Swancy of Riverview Farm, and Laurie and Will Moore from Moore Farms and Friends. Barss says one of their biggest goals is to create a community experience: "It's more than just about buying groceries." She wants shoppers to have a place to get their food, grab a bite to eat, bring the kids for an activity, and socialize with their neighbors.

While everything at the market is not certified organic, every vendor is sustainable. The product mix will be about 60/40 produce/prepared foods and the organizers will allow a cooperative model for farmers who can't afford to get to market. Expect fresh produce, baked goods, cheese and dairy, farm fresh eggs, handmade preserves and honey, prepared meals, fresh coffee, and more from vendors such as Decimal Place Farms, Sparta Imperial Mushrooms, and Rise 'N Shine Farms. Even Anne Quatrano is bringing her Star Provisons' bread to the market for sale.

There will be no chef demos at Freedom. Barss says she'd rather give chefs a place to promote their businesses, so there will be restaurant pop-ups instead. The first: Terry Koval from the Wrecking Bar Brewpub. To further the community angle, the market will have a "community table" where nonprofit organizations can set up shop to educate. The market will also accept SNAP/EBT cards so people on what used to be known as food stamps can have access to quality ingredients.

The Freedom Farmers Market has partnered with Georgia Organics to offer the first 50 shoppers that sign up for the "My Market Club," a grant-funded program developed to encourage people to support Georgia farmers markets, $5 a month to spend at this or other participating markets. The market will be open on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., March 1-Dec. 20.

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