GFMA Member Market Feature | Forsyth Farmers Market

As part of our feature series on GFMA member markets, we wanted to introduce you to the Forsyth Farmers Market. In this feature, market manager Teri Schell gives us insight into why markets are so important and how GFMA is working to support them. Browse through the Q&A below to learn more from Teri.

1. When and Why did your market start? Forsyth Farmers' Market started in May 2009. We merged with an existing market in Savannah, Starland Market, and moved to Forsyth Park for the shade, foot traffic and proximity to other healthy businesses -- Sentient Bean and Brighter Day Natural Foods.

2. What makes your market unique? We focus on farmers and food access -- 70% of our accepted vendors are farmers, with the other 30% balanced between unique prepared food and horticulture vendors.  Our location is also unique -- Forsyth Park is a 30 acre beauty on the edge of the historic district in Savannah. In Savannah, we think of Forsyth Park as the living room of the community -- everyone feels comfortable there and locals and visitors travel the same sidewalks that we set up on each Saturday. We also have a mobile farmers' market, Farm Truck 912, that sources from our farmers market vendors and visits under-served neighborhoods during the week for those who either can't attend on Saturday's or has mobility issues.

3. Give me an idea of what a typical market day looks like. What vendors are there and what type of products can shoppers find? We are open from 9am-1pm every Saturday at least 50 weeks of the year. We start loading in as early as 6:30am as we are not allowed to drive in Forsyth Park, so we must load in the hard way, with handcarts and a 4 wheeled cart with trailer. It's a hive of activity but we manage to make it all happen and then have a variety of produce, nuts, grains, pastured meats, eggs, dairy, cheese, bread, baked goods, coffee, pasta, and frozen prepared meals from Italian to Indian.
4. What's the one thing you wished people understood about farmers markets, farmers and/or the work that you do?

Farmers are not getting rich but they do love and honor their work. I hear grumbling that prices are high or that it's so busy at the market, that farmers must be getting rich and that's simply not true. It takes an enormous amount of work to get product to market and even when the farmers' market is packed solid with people, most of our vendors do not sell out. So it may appear like lots of money is exchanging hands, but when you break it down per Vendor for just 4 hours a week (for the massive amount of physical labor they had to put in before, after and during the market), that money starts to look very different. However, despite the fact that no one is getting rich, farmers are often incredibly happy to get to do the work. They are proud of what they do and don't do it for the love of money but for the love of growing good food for good people.

5. Why do you think local markets are important to communities? Local markets sustain local food producers, generate income within the local economy and build community among really wonderful people.

6. How is GFMA assisting you and your market in connecting people to local food? The GFMA provides resources that allow us to do our work better and connect with other markets across the state to share best practices.

7. Is there anything I haven't asked that you'd like to mention? We are launching an app thanks to a grant from the USDA's Farmers Market Promotion Program!  We feel that the app will help us reach the audience that depends on their phones to remind them of tasks, and we wanted local food procurement to be one of their weekly tasks. Check out our app here: https://yumberly.com/apps/forsyth-farmers-market/.

Learn more about the Forsyth Farmers Market, here.