SPEND some time outside this Sunday for a great cause.
The fourth annual Forsyth Farmers’ Market takes place April 29 at the Old Dairy Farm near Bonaventure Cemetery. A favorite event, the outdoor party celebrates food, community and, of course, the market.
Dinner is provided by a long list of local restaurants: B’s Cracklin BBQ, Brighter Day, Bull Street Taco, Cha Bella, El Coyote, Fox and Fig, Green Truck Pub, Kayak Kafé, Sentient Bean, and Tybee Island Social Club.
Service Brewing will provide beer, and Perc will provide non-alcoholic drinks. Loop It Up and Pegasus Riding Academy provide entertainment for the kids, and Jeff Two-Names and the Born Agains and Clouds and Satellites will perform.
Connect sat down with the market’s executive director, Jeb Bush, last week.
What are you excited about with this picnic, your first at the helm?
I just started in October as the director, and I have always gone to this event as a farmer. Really, we just work with a little network of groups and see who will donate their time. It’s good exposure.
This is the biggest list we’ve ever put together, so I’m super excited about that. It adds so much diversity to the event. B’s Cracklin’ BBQ has been so good to us every year we’ve done it. They come down and do this, provide all the pork and everything.
In the past, our vegetarian options haven’t been so wonderful, so we’re really excited that Green Truck Pub is doing a vegan option. We’ve got Fox and Fig, and again, these are all restaurants that are donating.
What does it mean to the market that restaurants donate instead of sell their food?
With the scope of this event, it really means that when people come out, the cost per person to us is so low that the ticket prices are really helping the organization, not just doing a fundraiser.
What does the organization plan to do with the money?
We have such a challenge because we’re so much than the Saturday farmers’ market. We have the Farm Truck 912, and a lot of money goes into subsidizing that. It’s going into underserved communities that are low-income and low-access. People are using their SNAP cards also. Part of that is covered by a grant, but we pick up a big portion of that as well. On Saturdays at the market we do double the SNAP points. It really is making fresh produce available.
Why is fresh produce better than canned?
It’s a lot cheaper to go out and get some kind of can or frozen vegetable, where the produce has been shipped across the country. They pick a vegetable in California thinking it’s coming to Georgia. They pick it green and it’s going to ripen on its route. It might look ripe, but the flavor isn’t as good and nutrition level isn’t as good.
Tell me about the Forsyth Farmers’ Market’s programming and what the organization does.
We take it to eight neighborhoods—six are low-income low-access. 20% of Chatham County is food insecure, meaning they have limited access to transportation and limited funds. By bringing the Farm Truck in, not only are we working to help them by accepting SNAP and doubling value, but we’re coming to where they are. They live far away from a grocery store.
We’ve been doing this for a little while so we keep learning different things. One of the main things is trying to make produce fun and show people how to easily use produce. We always have recipe cards on file with us, we do cooking demos.
The mission of the Forsyth Farmers’ Market is that we help out the farmers. We have a strong focus on the people who are creating our food, and the second focus is making sure that food is accessible to as many people as possible.
So many of our restaurants participating in the picnic are actually buying from the vendors, and then they are also serving it to the people who are willing to support the market.
What are your expectations for the picnic?
We are hoping to have about 300 people. I would love more! The spring is finally going to be here. Hopefully we’re all just gonna hang out in the sun, have a beer, listen to some music, visit with friends you might not see all the time. It’s not a stuffy dinner. It’s super casual, just sitting on the grass listening to music.