Along West Broad Street, nestled behind an old school building is West Broad Farmers Market, a local and affordable community market and garden owned by Athens Land Trust. It’s easy to miss unless you’re looking for it, but trust me, this is one place you don’t want to skip out on.
Athens Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that is committed to providing sustainable service for the local community through community agriculture, affordable housing, and of course, an amazing local garden.
The West Broad Farmers Market has only been around for the past 3 years, but has already accomplished incredible things by serving around 150-200 people a week. The market is located on the former grounds of a historically African American school which was later converted to a school for children with behavioral disabilities.
I had the opportunity to talk to Rebecca Enis, the garden manager, who said that along with providing affordable produce to the local neighborhoods, one of the goals of the market is to reclaim the history of the land and to beautify the community.
The produce stand, which is open from April to December, sells a variety of fresh foods including collard greens, mustard, beets, lettuce, turnips, and even chicken eggs. The free range, organic chicken eggs have a dark orange yolk, unlike the pale yellow found in most grocery store eggs, which means that they are very high in beta carotene.
The produce is sold at very affordable prices and is strategically located to target low income communities in the surrounding areas. It is certified naturally grown and is cultivated with the help of local volunteers.
Along with providing fresh and delicious foods, the farmers market also offers cooking demos, health screenings, yoga, and even activities and games for children. Local vendors also attend to sell homemade foods and artisanal goods.
What makes this organization incredible is that it promotes a holistic approach to healthy and sustainable lifestyles by not just providing healthy foods, but teaching their consumers how to cook clean, allowing them to be informed on their health through screenings, and encouraging an active lifestyle.
Right now, the farmers and volunteers are prepping for the new growing season with the market set to open to the public April 30. Unfortunately we still have to wait a few weeks for the garden to open, but I was still able to witness the flowers starting to bud and vines beginning to peep through the beds when I stopped by this week.
Come spring, if you find yourself with a couple of hours to spare over the weekend, the West Broad Farmers Market is a great place to visit for health food on a budget, supporting local businesses, and to experience the warmth and beauty of the Athens community.
Interested in volunteering for this amazing org? You can sign up here to take trips and to hone your gardening skills alongside your fellow Dawgs.