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Your guide to navigating farmers markets this summer
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Alpharetta Farmers Market. - photo by Micah Green

About this article

This article was originally published in the July/August 2016 issue of M: North Atlanta, a publication of the Forsyth County News. To read the entire magazine, click here.

Story highlights

* We visited three of the more steadfast farmers markets along the Ga. 400 corridor to get a sense of what each market has to offer.
400 Produce, Forsyth County
Alpharetta Farmers Market
Roswell Farmers and Artisans Market

Just because you plan to leave with more groceries and products than you come with, there are some items that may make your experience easy and stress-free.

• Reusable bags. Vendors typically have plastic bags for the produce you buy from them, but being able to carry
everything in a couple large, fabric bags may be easier to lug around, especially if you’re planning on staying
for lunch or some music. Plus, cutting down on plastic bags is in line with the sustainable, environmentally friendly trend generally followed by these markets.

• Cash. Many vendors, especially with current technology, will accept credit cards, but — we think — cash is still easier. Try to bring smaller bills so you don’t take all their change.

• Water. You can always buy fresh drinks at each market, but in this heat it’s best to stay hydrated so you can
focus on enjoying what’s around you.

• Picnic blanket. If you want to stay a while, bring your family, bring a blanket, buy some lunch at the market and find a spot on the side of the crowd.

• Sunscreen. Strolling from vendor to vendor puts you in the sun for a significant amount of time, so make sure
you’re not unknowingly getting burned from the heat. Although you may be able to find some homemade lotions at one of the booths if you end up needing it.

It may be too hot in this Georgia summer to be outside midday without being near or in a body of water, but there are more ways to beat the heat and stay productive in our area.

Farmers markets pop up in seemingly every city during the summer. If you’re up for an early Saturday morning, they’re a great way to support local businesses, get outside and explore your city. But whether you’re a veteran at picking produce or new to the game, the sheer number of choices may be overwhelming enough to make the trip tedious. Where to go, what to bring, what to pick.

That’s where we come in. We visited three of the more steadfast markets along the Ga. 400 corridor to get a sense of what each market has to offer. Each put its own city’s twist on the event, from the artisans market in Alpharetta to the locally sourced farmers’ produce in north Forsyth. Of course, we couldn’t cover every city and every market. But we were pleased with these.

Alpharetta Farmers Market

Where they are: Located at the corner of Milton Avenue and Old Canton Street in downtown Alpharetta, this market is set up more like an art festival, with tents lining the street in the center of the town’s activities. They’re open from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, but the earlier you get there the fresher the selection.

What they offer: There is more than produce under the tents, with vendors offering everything from maple syrup products, artisan breads and
fresh coffee to flowers, reusable bags and grass fed beef. “This is actually nothing. It’s usually slammed in here,” said Mike Mayoras, a regular at the market. He and his wife brought their three grandchildren, who he said gravitated toward the live music. “I really like the soaps.”

What makes them special: This is almost a one-stop shop for your locally sourced needs. And you can make a half-day out of it. You can buy
ready-to-eat food and non-perishable products, so take those to watch some music. There are 67 vendors listed on the event’s website, so you’ll
have plenty to choose from. Then you can grab the fresh produce and products on your way out so you don’t have to keep them in the sun.

Grocery list
* Beefsteak tomatoes: $2 each
* Cherry tomatoes: $2 per carton
* Buckets to fill vegetables: $5/$10/$15

400 Produce, Forsyth County

Where they are: The address is 4310 Settendown Village but you’ll see them before you get there. The big red barn with umbrellas and signs for boiled peanuts outside is unmistakable as you drive north on Ga. 400 into the north end of the county. Eric Bennett and his wife took the
market under new ownership in March, and they’ve done well so far to focus on Georgia grown products and to support local farmers.

What they offer: Though they’re open seven days of the week – Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1-6 p.m. – Bennett’s sister, Becky Edenfield, who runs the business day to day, said the best days to come are Tuesday and Friday because that’s when fresh produce is delivered. Saturdays are also one of the busiest days, so don’t wait all day to go. “We’ve got some of the sweetest cantaloupes,” she said.

What makes them special: This is the most traditional produce market we visited, with products not straying too much from raw ingredients. But Edenfield said one of the drawing points of the big barn are the ice cream scoops you can buy and eat while you shop. The jars of pickles and jams didn’t look too bad, either. Edenfield said anyone who follows them on Facebook can take part in customer appreciation days, where they give out homemade cutting boards and other goodies.

Grocery list
* Jar of pickles: $6.99
* Lemons: 3 for $1
* Peaches: $2.99/lb.
* Cantaloupes: 2 for $4
* Watermelon: $2.49
* Strawberries: $4.99
* Ice cream: $2.49 for 1 scoop, $3.49 for 2 scoops

Roswell Farmers and Artisans Market

Where they are: Similar to Alpharetta, the Roswell market is set to the backdrop of City Hall at 38 Hill Street and is open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. They also sell everything from vegetables to house products to knife sharpening services, though it has grown since it opened in 2007 as the Riverside Farmers Market with eight vendors.

What they offer: The market was named the No. 1 Medium-Size Market in American by Farmland Trust in 2011. You can buy groceries, grab a snack and listen to music, or you can attend whatever special event they are putting on. We walked by the remains of a pie baking contest that was open to the public, and past events have included kids days, barbecue and a cutest dog contest.

What makes it special: Downtown Roswell comes together every Saturday at this market, and that certainly is their goal. It’s organized by a group of volunteer locals whose goal is to do just that. Their website offers more than simply listing when and where to go — it has recipes, community events and a food blog.

Grocery list
* Mixed vegetables: $3 per carton
* Beets: $3 each
* Peaches: $5 for a small carton, $7 for a medium carton or $38 for a 27-pound box
* Basil: $2 per plant
* Chairs to sit in the shade while you’re there: Free