Georgia Farmers Market Association & New Entry Sustainable Farming Project Press Release

For more information, please contact:
Kristen Aldrich at or 978-654-6745 xt.105,
Sagdrina Jalal at or (404) 271-0071 |

New Entry and GA Farmers Market Association partnership announced for the 2019 Community Food Systems Conference

Atlanta, GA & Boston, MA: New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and Georgia Farmers Market Association (GFMA) are excited to announce their partnership in putting on the 2019 Community Food Systems Conference to take place in early December 2019 in Savannah, Georgia. The partners will build on the momentum of the 2017 Community Food Systems Conference and GFMA’s Food for Thought Conference. The 2019 Community Food Systems Conference will address common underlying themes between food security, social justice and sustainable agriculture including obstacles in urban and rural environments and fostering community empowerment to create and sustain resilient local food systems.

New Entry released a request for proposals for potential partner organizations to submit their interest as the conference host. New Entry considered organizations in the South, with strong local and regional partnerships and a focus on racial equity in the food system.

Sagdrina Jalal is the founding Executive Director of the Georgia Farmers Market Association: a state wide organization led by farmers, farmers market managers and other local food advocates. The Association has 160 members. GFMA seeks to support communities in growing healthy local food systems and foster pathways to equitable food access. GFMA emerged from a vision to strengthen the state’s farmers market infrastructure by shaping public policy, offering statewide representation, increasing whole food access and providing training and educational opportunities. GFMA enables markets to thrive, grow, and multiply and the organization includes Board representation from all constituencies and regions within the state.

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project’s (New Entry) mission is to improve the local and regional food systems by training the next generation of farmers to produce food that is sustainable, nutritious, and culturally-appropriate and making this food accessible to individuals regardless of age, mobility, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. In doing this work, they provide critical training, career development, and economic opportunity to new farmers. New Entry conducted the Community Food Systems Conference in December 2017.

The 2017 Community Food Systems Conference was held December 5 – 7, 2017 at the Boston Park Plaza, with the conference reception held at the Boston Public Market. 550 people participated over the course of the 3 day event. Pre-conference workshops offered intensive sessions diving into specific topics, and field trips gave attendees a look at community food systems initiatives in action in the Boston area. The keynote address was given by Winona LaDuke and a plenary panel session featured Suzanne Adely (Food Chain Workers Alliance), Aleya Fraser (Black Dirt Farm Collective), Malik Yakini (Detroit Black Community Food Security Network), and was moderated by Andy Fisher (former Executive Director of Community Food Security Coalition). The conference and reception featured performances by Urban Youth, with the organization Appetite for Change based in North Minneapolis, MN.

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2016-33800-25610.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Policy Place: An Intro to the Farm Bill

The Georgia Farmers Market Association is an organization dedicated to the promotion of healthy communities. We strive to do so by connecting people to local food systems and providing support for the agricultural community both here in Georgia and across the country.  Because of our mission, it is important for us to be mindful of the many policies that exist to support the promotion of healthy communities and individuals.  This may include policies on nutrition, sustainable practices, regulations for organic certifications, equitable farming, conservation, and funding that supports local organizations like ourselves. An example of such a policy that has sweeping implications for Georgia and its citizens is the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill. The Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill, was signed into law in February of 2014.  The bill is a continuation of legislation that began in 1933 and is renewed about every five years, creating and reauthorizing federal programs in a number of different interests. As Congress drafts the next Farm Bill, it is important for all of us involved in or passionate about local food systems to stay aware and engaged.  The Farm Bill is a very robust piece of legislation and highlights how agricultural legislation has an impact across the national, state and local levels of the government.

Supporting nutritional programs, initiatives, and funding opportunities is essential to promoting healthy communities.  Many of these programs exist on the national level, however have direct impacts on us here in Georgia.  Namely, one of the biggest nutrition programs operating at the national level, that many of you may have already heard of is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP or Food Stamps.  SNAP is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture and receives its funding from legislation written within the Farm Bill.  SNAP not only makes it possible for eligible citizens to have more equitable access to nutritious food through financial support, it also promotes a culture of creating healthy eating habits.  SNAP works with nutrition educators as well as neighborhood and faith-based organizations to ensure participants are making informed decision about their nutrition and works to create a more food-secure environment for all.  This national program has trickle-down effects that support policy such as school lunches, which are now, more than ever, ensuring our children are eating the most nutritious lunches that are available to them. Positive nutrition choices begin when you are young, making programs like these so important! To learn more about SNAP you can visit their website here.

At the state level, different policies have the potential to have an even greater impact on our day to day lives. Specifically, the Georgia Department of Agriculture is the state governmental office responsible for protecting and promoting agricultural and consumer interests, and ensuring safe food for all of Georgia. It is also the oldest state department of agriculture in the United States! The Georgia Department of Agriculture receives some of its funding from the Farm Bill, which it uses to help sustain numerous programs with the goal of maintaining the states farm industry and protecting the consumer. One of these programs is Georgia Grown, which is a marketing and economic development program with the goal of aiding our agricultural economies and helping new and established agribusiness grow and thrive! Georgia Grown also has deep roots in sustainability and its logo is a marker of agricultural products grown right here in the state of Georgia. Georgia Grown is also one of our very own platinum sponsors! To learn more about the Georgia Department of Agriculture, visit their website here, and visit with Georgia Grown here.

Locally, we have the potential to have the biggest impact! There are many organizations right here in the Atlanta metro area, existing throughout its various communities that are working to promote the sustainability of agriculture, farmers, producers, consumers, and healthy families, to name a few. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is one of these organizations. ARC works to secure metro Atlanta's future by providing world-class infrastructure, building a competitive economy and fostering healthy, livable communities. An example of this effort is their Green Communities Program. The Green Communities Program is a voluntary certification program that helps local governments implement measures that will reduce their environmental impact to create a greener, healthier and more livable region. GFMA’s very own Norcross Community Market, which is a 2018 member market, is a Green Community honoree with a platinum status, which is the highest status that can be earned within this program. GFMA was able to help Norcross upgrade to their platinum status from a gold status in January of 2016. Norcross was able to promote smart growth through its Conservation Subdivision Ordinance and its Livable Centers Initiative plans! To learn more about ARC and the Green Communities Program, visit their website here.

Policy comes in many shapes and sizes and exists at all levels of the government, presenting many avenues for people like you and me to get involved.  They can exist in the form of governmental departments, programs, initiatives, and legislative funding.  All have the potential to greatly impact various agricultural practices and many different communities.  We encourage you to visit the websites of these organizations and the websites of many of our partner organizations who are engaging in similar work. It is important to us that our community is informed and is able to understand the implications of various policies!


2017 Food for Thought Conference Recap

An Energizing Boost for Farmers, Producers and the Local Food Movement from the Georgia Farmers Market Association.
A Report by Laurie Wakefield, Gwinnett County Master Gardener
Photo Credit, Warren Cameron, 5 Acre Studios

At the end of 2017, the Georgia Farmers Market Association (GFMA) hosted its second
Food for Thought Conference. It was my privilege to help the association coordinate and promote the conference as well as the Celebration of Farmers and Local Producers that followed the conference on Friday evening.
Two hundred participants, including farmers, producers, and local food advocates, attended the two-day conference; enthusiasm was high and participants were eager to learn and share their own knowledge and experience.
Throughout the conference, I heard two common themes expressed: Keynote speakers’, presenters’ and attendee’s statements echoed their shared passion to impact and serve their communities by growing responsibly, raising awareness and improving local food systems. I also heard similar versions of the statement, “I learned over time, grew through my experience and my performance improved, here’s how...” All were generous with their time and eager to help one another.


Keynote speaker Ken Dawson said, “In addition to making our living, we must improve upon the land that supports us, teach younger growers to do the same, and feed the community in which we live.” Ken has been farming, selling at farmers markets and serving in leadership roles for these markets over 30 years. During his keynote session he shared photos and specific tips and techniques for selling produce at farmers markets that he has learned through the years. Following his presentation, Ken was an active participant in the conference.


Keynote speaker, Dr. Leni Sorensen, a culinary historian, teacher, consultant and writer, said her philosophy is “to pass on the stuff I know.” During her keynote, Leni shared entertaining stories and photos from her life while describing the rural life skills that she inherited and learned along the way. At one point during her presentation Leni asked for a show of hands, “how many of you have a cast iron pan?” then she replied, “I have 40.” In addition to her keynote session, Leni answered questions and coached attendees over lunch and an informal Q&A session.


Sessions on a variety of topics designed for farmers, homesteaders, market managers, and food advocates took place over two days. Presentations were made by a variety of leaders and experts including the University of Georgia faculty and members of the UGA Cooperative Extension, representatives from the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and various farmers and market managers! Powerful networking and idea sharing took place during lunches and between sessions, then extended into the celebration event on Friday evening.


The Celebration of Farmers and Local Producers followed the conference on Friday evening at the Hudgens Center for Art and Learning. Participants mingled among the artwork of Elizabeth Catlett, enjoyed live music by local independent soul jazz artist and farmer, AjaRay, and enjoyed delicious, locally produced cocktails and food, prepared by local chefs. 

A Note from the Executive Director: Fresh Stop Markets

Georgia Farmers Market Association Will Introduce Fresh Stop Markets to Support Local Farmers and Improve Equitable Food Access in Taliaferro County, Georgia

  Pictured Above: Sagdrina Jalal, Executive Director of GFMA and Karyn Moskowitz, Executive Director of New Roots, feeling the Fresh Stop Market love

Pictured Above: Sagdrina Jalal, Executive Director of GFMA and Karyn Moskowitz, Executive Director of New Roots, feeling the Fresh Stop Market love

Through partnerships with New Roots of Kentucky and leaders of Healthier Together Taliaferro, the Georgia Farmers Market Association will roll out the first Fresh Stop Market in Georgia

The Fresh Stop Market concept originated in Ohio and has been further developed since 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky by News Roots, Inc. under the leadership of Executive Director Karyn Moskowitz.  Based on the belief that fresh food is a basic human right, these community driven markets utilize cooperative economics: a philosophy and practice that includes pooling of resources, sharing of skills and taking care of one another. This overarching principal has increased sustainable food systems and improved fresh food access across Kentucky and southern Indiana with fourteen successful Fresh Stop Markets in communities in this region.

I was introduced to the Fresh Stop Market approach to food equity at Harvard University Law School’s Food Justice Forum in the early 2015. For the last three years, Karyn and I have been very intentional about getting to know each other as leaders as well as our respective organizations.  I have been so impressed by New Roots’ work and its incredible impact in Kentucky, and I am thrilled to bring this movement to Georgia. There is immense value in the financial opportunities that the markets provide for small scale farmers as well as their ability to improve food equity in their communities.

Fresh Stop Markets are community led, farm-fresh food markets set up at local faith-based institutions and community centers in fresh food insecure neighborhoods. The food is ordered and paid for in advance so that farmers are assured of their earnings. Within the model, shareholders pool their SNAP benefits and cash to purchase equal “shares” of local, fresh fruits and vegetables every other week for a 22-week market season. Families pay on an income-based sliding scale with everyone receiving a “share” of the same ten varieties of delicious, seasonal, fresh produce (enough to feed 2-3 people for two weeks).  I can’t imagine a better system than one that makes the highest quality food available in Georgia accessible to everyone.

Through Fresh Stop Markets, community members help farmers market their produce to their neighbors. This cooperation eliminates the risks that farmers sometimes face in traditional farmers market models, while also ensuring that all communities can have access to fresh, local, nutrient dense foods. Volunteer chefs are also on hand at Fresh Stop Markets to demo tasty and healthy ways to prepare the food.

“People in the community describe Fresh Stop Markets as welcoming and happy. They are like a family reunion where all five senses are engaged along with lots of laughter, food and fun. We have been eager to share and expand this concept to other states and we are delighted to work with Georgia Farmers Market Association to bring Fresh Stop Markets to Georgia.”  -Karyn Moskowitz

 Through a partnership with leaders of Healthier Together Taliaferro, GFMA will introduce a community-driven Fresh Stop Market to distribute local, farm-fresh food in Taliaferro County. With the right funding, we plan to establish additional markets in other Georgia locations in 2018.  A key first decision was to engage our member farmers to advise the GFMA staff as we develop Fresh Stop Markets in Georgia.  Leading this charge are two local farmers and GFMA board members, Musa Hasan and Gail Zorn.

“I believe in food equity and providing access to fresh food for all. I am proud to be a part of the team bringing Fresh Stop Markets to Georgia. I will participate as a farmer, community builder and an organizer of Fresh Stop Markets.” –Musa Hassan

You can learn more about the upcoming Fresh Stop Market in Taliferro and how to bring a Fresh Stop Market to your community here.

Interested in Joining this Good Food Movement?

On February 13, 2018, we will convene a group of farmers interested in helping us build the model. Please email me at for more information.