The Evolution of EAVFM
There had always been chatter about starting a farmer’s market in East Atlanta Village, but it took the help of the community along with the initiative of Jonathan Tescher and many others, to make it a reality. Jonathan had been working with kids at the Parks and Recreation Center in Brownwood Park when they received a donated hydroponic system to grow lettuce and sell it to the neighborhood. That is when the idea to start a farmer’s market first popped into Jonathan’s mind and he began looking for a location and participants.
After a lot of hard work, East Atlanta Village welcomed the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market (EAVFM) in 2006. Now a staple on Thursday evenings, the market features sustainable and local produce, cheese, yogurt, sweet treats, prepared foods and much more.
There was always a mission behind EAVFM: to create opportunities to strengthen the local economy and encourage healthy lifestyles. EAVFM pursues vendor practices, programs and partnerships that have environmental, social and economic integrity. Knowing that food is a social catalyst, EAVFM offers a weekly venue six months out of the year where a collection of families, friends and neighbors can gather to share ideas, music, art and much more.
The inaugural market operated August through October of 2006. The market was located on the south side of the East Atlanta Arts and Antiques Bazaar in the parking lot. Twenty two vendors signed up to participate, hoping to build a long lasting relationship with the East Atlanta community. In just 3 months, the market reached over 700 customers, and has been growing ever since.
With only one full-time employee, EAVFM relies heavily on the participation of the community. Countless volunteers help with everything from welcoming customers to assisting vendors with set up to writing this very blog. “The East Atlanta Village Farmers Market was a true community effort.” says Tescher. “The East Atlanta Beer Fest, East Atlanta Strut, EAV Neighborhood Association and EAV Business Association all supported the market getting started, as did local property owners and Avenue Realty, and all are still supporters today.
Seeing the need to make food accessible for everyone, the market was the first in Georgia to partner with Wholesome Wave to accept food stamp benefits at double their value.
Now, in 2012, the market attracted more than 1000 people on opening day alone. Moving locations in 2011, the market now operates at 561 Flat Shoals Avenue and is open April through December. The vendor participation has grown to almost 40 vendors, and they have been joined by many other programs, including a Music at the Market Series, a Kid’s Activity Booth, and weekly Cooking Demos.
Commenting on the success of the market, Tescher says “People often comment that I must feel proud about the market. Truth is, when I go to market each week, I’m most proud of all of the people that contributed to its success and the amazing community of vendors that have been with us along the way.”
EAVFM is operated by a Community Farmers Markets, a non-profit organization seeking to develop and strengthen farmers markets for long term sustainability and meaningful community impact. Building on the success of EAVFM, Community Farmers Market partnered with The Grant Park Conservancy to establish the Grant Park Farmers Market in 2011. Both markets continue to grow and thrive thanks to the participation of community vendors and residents.