It’s about that time: The weather is near perfection in South Georgia, and Valdosta Main Street is primed to kick off its sixth-annual run of the Valdosta Farm Days event in the local courthouse square.
“The market strives to present a diverse balance of fruits, vegetables, flowers, meats, dairy, plants, baked goods, and other food-based goods,” said Missy Smith, Program Coordinator for Valdosta Main Street. “Farmers and producers of all kinds are welcome to apply provided they are selling goods that have been grown, raised or produced themselves. Concessions, flea market items, and used and antique furniture sales are prohibited.”
The Farm Days event began in 2011; in order to work in conjunction with holidays and various courthouse events, this year’s schedule will invite customers on select Saturdays from May to September. Generally hosting around 31 vendors, the event focuses on the importance of locally-produced goods, as well as supporting local vendors. The number of vendors could possibly increase, however; Valdosta Main Street publishes a newsletter at the beginning of the week leading up to each event to let the community know what to expect.
“There are many benefits to supporting local farmers markets,” Smith said. “When farmers sell at the market, they get to bring home 100 percent of the retail price; this means that your money stays and works in the community. It’s also better for the environment. The food you are eating comes from nearby and does not require us to waste lots of energy and petroleum to ship the food halfway around the world, so we are supporting the environment by reducing the usage of fossil fuels.”
Not only does the event help the overall productivity and success of local farmers, vendors, and the environment; it also helps to instill a sense of pride and community that has come to be synonymous with Valdosta over the years.
“Farmers’ markets serve not only as a way for people to purchase locally grown produce but also as a chance for them to connect with others within their communities,” Smith said. “Purchasing local goods is an experience that promotes a sense of place, important in making individuals feel tied to their communities.”
In addition to supporting the community through the sale and purchase of local goods, the event also serves as an opportunity for customers to attend demonstrations that range in topic from food preparation to healthy eating habits.
For more information, visit Valdosta Main Street’s website (http://www.valdostamainstreet.com) or contact Missy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Farm Days event sees its share of regular vendors, and according to Mrs. Smith, not only are they welcomed, but they are extremely appreciated by both Valdosta Main Street and consumers. “Some of the most popular items are Miss Hargett’s fresh produce, Sugar’s nut butters, fresh milk from Cedar Rock Dairy, jams and jellies from any of our vendors,” she said. “And last year, we had a young middle-schooler who made some of the best homemade chocolate chip cookies. She sold out at almost every market.”
Health-Life / May-June 2016
Valdosta Farm Days
By James Washington