Athens Farmers Market

Customers inspected their produce carefully at the Athens Farmers Market at Athens City Hall in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (Photo/Taylor Renner, tayrenn@uga.edu)

Summertime is the sweetest time of year, literally. The Athens area is filled with organic and locally grown produce in the height of its season.

Each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays from 4-7 p.m., over 40 vendors including farmers, prepared food purveyors and artisans gather at Athens Farmer’s Market. With fresh produce, meat, eggs from free range chickens, coffee, dairy and live music, Athens Farmer’s Market brings local farmers and artisans together for  days of food and fun with the family.

All of the food is locally grown, using sustainable farming methods and all the art is hand-crafted. On Saturdays, the market is located in Bishop Park, but the newly opened Creature Comforts Brewery will be the new home of the market on Wednesdays.

The West Broad Farmer’s Market features 23 different vendors that include farmers with fresh produce, bakers, prepared food vendors, and artisans on Saturdays and Tuesdays from 4-7 p.m. at the old West Broad School. While the Tuesday market only sells fruits and vegetables, the Saturday market has prepared foods including Ethiopian, Jamaican Jerk, and Ms. Ethel’s Grilled Soul Food with a Twist, handmade soaps, crafts, baked goods, breads, eggs and more. They also have family activities including garden tours, cooking demos, health workshops, yoga and music. On July 26, they will have a health fare and a Heritage and Community Agricultural Festival in November.

On Atlanta Highway in the same giant parking lot with Target, a brightly painted yellow and green building holds Opa Robby’s Market, a family owned local business that offers produce from 12 farmers within 50 miles of Athens.

Their goal is to be at least 80 percent locally grown during peak season. During the off-season, they supplement by seeking regionally and locally grown produce from the Atlanta Farmer’s Market.

They have most of your typical fruits and veggies as well as homemade crafts, local honey, Georgia pickled veggies and Georiga apple cider.

Unlike most other farmer’s markets, this one is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. all year long.

“I believe consistent availability of seasonal items is important for the community. We offer items other than just produce at the market that the community needs during the winter months,” said Susan Rigby, one of the owners of Opa Robby’s Market, in an email to the Red and Black. “I am a firm believer in being open when the community needs you. This is our business and livelihood so we are open year round to accommodate the needs of our community.”

If you’re craving some fresh produce but your favorite farmer’s market isn’t open, you can get produce from Athens Locally Grown by ordering it online. Sunday through Tuesday, you can place orders for produce from over 100 farmers and gardeners in Athens, and on Thursday, you can pick up your order from 4:30-8 p.m.

So, your produce is literally on the vine one day and in your kitchen the next.

For your first two orders, you only pay for the produce, but on the third order, you pay a $25 membership fee.

Whether you purchase your produce online or in person, purchasing local produce not only provides you with delectable, fresh, organic and chemical-free produce, including 100 percent natural meat and range-free chicken but also supports the local economy.

“Yes, we both work in collaboration to support the local food system!  Our farmers market has wonderful diversity and celebrate multicultural communities and good food,” said Christina, the community agricultural director for West Broad Farmer’s Market, in an email to the Red and Black.

“Our goals are to bring community together, promote health and wellness through fresh food, and continue to grow the local economy!”

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