By Natalie Simms
Farmers’ markets and the demand for fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables are on the rise across the country with a 135 percent increase in the number of farmers’ markets across the country in the last 10 years, according to the Farmers Market Coalition. The total is up to 8,735 markets — and climbing. The same trend is happening across Northwest Georgia with local markets popping up in nearby communities, including the new Between the Rivers Farmers’ Market opening in Rome on May 4.
Elisabeth Lawson, who runs Rise N Shine Farm with her husband Mitch, has brought together a variety of local producers to create the market that will be open every Saturday, rain or shine, from 8-11:30 a.m., May through October, in the Bridgepoint Plaza parking lot. So far, 13 producers — including vegetable, animal and dairy farmers, as well as garden farms, local bakers and a coffee producer — will be participating.
“All of these vendors are within 30 miles of Rome,” says Lawson. “We just felt like Rome was ready for an every week market. We just have a heart to get everyone together around food. We (local farmers) are all better when we are supporting each other together…offering great food grown around here.”
Those participating in the Between the Rivers Farmers’ Market include:
- Bluem- Carol Rutledge, plant arrangements
- Udderly Cool Cheese
- Carlton Farm
- Rise N Shine Farm
- Tucker Farmers
- Lyons Bridge Beef
- Sapelo Farms
- Swift and Finch Coffee
- A Place to Grow- Becky Robinson, orchid arrangements
- 2 Bit Farm/Harvest Moon
- Sunflour Community Bakery
- Doug’s Deli Downtown
- Riverview Farm
“There are all established family farmers. We have completed farm tours of each produced to ensure that they are growing or producing what they say they are…that everything is produced in-house,” says Lawson. “This is not a green or organic market, but some of these farmers are certified organic and naturally grown. All food sold has been produced without sprays…it is the best quality you can get.
“All of the meats and eggs come from pasture-raised animals. Some of the animals are grass-fed. The cheeses are artisan cheeses. We have local flowers and homemade breads. Swift and Finch will have their special coffee, homemade breakfast items and jellies.”
Lawson says she has seen a steady increase in demand for local produce.
“Folks are a lot more aware of the importance of food and knowing where their food comes from, that is it grown properly. We’ve seen a lot more people that want to go to the farm and see how it’s grown,” she says. “We will be making sure we offer local, organic produce…nothing will be resold from elsewhere, so you won’t see any oranges or bananas here, but only what produce is grown here around Floyd County or nearby.
“We’ve been producing at Rise N Shine Farm for 15 years and we’ve seen interest grow over the years in what we are doing. It’s a trend that, we hope, is here to stay.”
Lawson and her team hope to create an atmosphere to celebrate both food and the arts with local artisans participating, as well as musical entertainment and chef demonstrations.
“We are creating an atmosphere celebrating arts and food. We will have great walkability to downtown, so folks can shop, eat and enjoy the river…it really will enhance the experience in being downtown,” she says.
“We will also have a big focus on quality control. We have hired a market manager who will make sure all our producers are growing properly. We want to be transparent for the community, so they know the produce is grown here.”
As for the future, Lawson says she would love to see the market go year-round such as the Freedom Farmers Market in Atlanta. “We have the products to go year-round. We plan to go through October now and then we will re-evaluate. We may have a small winter market. We do hope to expand and grow the market even more next year.”
There are a number of other farmers’ markets in Rome and surrounding communities. Here’s a rundown of some other local options:
Ridge Ferry Park Farmers’ Market
The Ridge Ferry Park Farmers’ Market hosted by Rome-Floyd Parks and Rec will be opening for the season on June 1 and continue through Oct. 12 on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7-11 a.m. both days. Customers will be able to purchase locally grown produce, fresh cut flowers, organic produce, baked goods, canned goods, jellies, herbs and hand-made craft items. Selection varies each time. All farmers and vendors interested in participating should complete a vendor application form (also available at the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation main office or onsite at the Farmer’s Market). There is no application fee. Market requires vendors to be in compliance with all applicable regulations regarding products. Licenses/certifications are required for the sale of products. Vendor fees are due daily upon arrival: $7/day. Click here for more information.
Located at 2416 Turkey Mountain Road in Armuchee, Lowrey Farms will open for the season around June 1 and continue through mid-August. Open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m., Lowrey Farms grows a variety of produce on its 15 acres. Seasonal produce available include sweet corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, okra, tomatoes, peas/beans. All produce is picked daily and sold to the public. They also bring in potatoes and onions from outside vendors. In addition to produce, they also sell homemade peach ice cream, as well as jams, jellies, salsa, chow chow and vegetable soup base. For more information, check out their Facebook page.
Cartersville Farmers Market
The Cartersville Farmers Market is being revamped this year to hopefully draw more customers. Starting June 1, the market will be open every Saturday from 7 a.m. until noon at the Founders Oak area in downtown Cartersville. It will be open through the end of September. In addition to local farmers, the market will also be open to local craft vendors. Applications are now available at the Welcome Center (Train Depot) with $35 application fee for the season.
Hannah Surrett with Cartersville Downtown Development says they plan to offer cooking and food demonstrations, as well as have live musical entertainment. “Farmers’ markets are so trendy and are on the rise with the younger generation. We’ve seen an increase over the years and always have a great response from vendors,” she says.
The Cartersville Tomato Festival will return this year on Saturday, July 27. For more information, check out their Facebook page.
Rockmart Farmers Market
Every Thursday from 2-6 p.m., the Rockmart Farmers Market is open along Waters Street in Downtown Rockmart. They are open year-round with the exception of two weeks at Thanksgiving and three weeks at Christmas. Local farmers have a variety of produce including locally grown fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, baked goods, homemade jams/jellies and fresh flowers. For more information, check out their Facebook page.
Adairsville Farmers Market
The Adairsville Farmers Market begins June 1 and runs every Saturday through August 31 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. It’s located at the Downtown Public Square. Items available include fresh produce, homemade jellies and organic honey, just to name a few. More information can be found on the City of Adairsville Facebook page.