Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Mayor Van Johnson may have issued shelter-in-place directives and ordered the closer of non-essential operations, but Forsyth Farmers’ Market is doing business as usual, providing fresh and local food to the Savannah community every Saturday morning as an essential service.
“It’s a very important designation for us because it allows us to stay open,” said Jeb Bush, Executive Director of Forsyth Farmers’ Market. “We were very pleased that mayors and governors across the country have been doing that. While some farmers’ markets have closed, because they haven’t had the support of their local lawmakers, we’ve been pleased to receive the support of ours.”
Forsyth Farmers’ Market was founded in 2009 and merged with the existing Starland Market to set up every weekend in Forsyth Park. The location may pose some logistical challenges, such as lack of parking, but the beautiful, open setting, set under the canopy of trees that line the main throughway, is a weekend highlight that brings in crowds of regular customers and visitors.
Of course, the market has made adjustments to comply with social distancing including placing the vendors twenty feet apart, with booths now extending from Park Avenue all the way to the monument. Vendors also wear gloves when handling money and shoppers are encouraged to continue maintaining six feet of social distancing. Despite a few necessary changes, and a few vendors opting out, the market still offers a robust selection of goods from dozens of local businesses and continues to draw lots of shoppers.
Besides the market on Saturdays, Forsyth Farmers’ Market is ramping up their Farm Truck 912, bringing local seasonal fruit and vegetables to Savannah neighborhoods that normally have low-access to fresh, affordable food. Farm Truck 912 accepts cash, credit, debit as payment, but also accepts and doubles SNAP/EBT benefits. In fact, FFM was one of the first independent farmers’ markets in the nation to institute a token system that allows customers to use SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program, formerly known as food stamps) and has the second highest SNAP sales for a farmers’ market in Georgia.
“We’ve had a very busy week with Farm Truck 912,” said Bush. “We’ll definitely be purchasing more stock from our farmers so that we can supply as many customers as possible.”
A full schedule of where Farm Truck 912 makes stops is available at forsythfarmersmarket.com.
With hot dog shelves in grocery stores stripped bare and people anxiously stacking their pantries with canned baked beans, it is important to remember that although the world is facing difficult times, it is still possible to easily purchase fresh, healthy food while supporting your farming neighbors.
“There’s plenty of options for fresh local seasonal food, and not only are you getting food for your family, you’re also supporting small local businesses who are really negatively affected by this pandemic,” said Bush. “Our plan is stay stay open as long as possible. If customers keep coming, we’ll remain open.”
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