This past Saturday marked the first day of spring, at least for me. Not only was it sunny and 70 degrees but it was the first Saturday of the year that Bishop Park was once again home to the Athens Farmers Market. The entire park was alive with organic strawberries, local honey and some of the friendliest people you can meet. It even started to smell like spring. Nothing can quite make my day like a trip to the Farmer's Market, granted I'm one of those weird people who gets excited about fresh kale and artisan granola, but still it makes my day. 

We live right in the middle of farm country. If you drive a few miles south on Lexington you can find everything from chickens laying eggs to dairy cows, and if you head north toward Dahlonega you can find some of the freshest produce you have ever seen. Not only do all of these farmers and artisans come to us, but they give us the distinct pleasure of buying local foods only a couple of days removed from the ground. That's something you can't find in most grocery stores, let alone most towns. 

The Athens Farmers Market isn't the only wonderful food opportunity that Athens offers us either, just a couple of miles away down Prince Avenue sits Daily Groceries Co-op. Daily Groceries is a not for profit Co-op that is run democratically by the members and board of directors. They specialize in local, organic foods and humanely treated local meats. Here's the really cool part, anyone can be a member, anyone including students can 'buy in' and become an "Owner-Member" for only $100. After that you can share in any of the profits the Co-op receives. Not to mention all the wonderful local produce.

On top of that, there's the West Broad Market and Garden, which also grows organic produce. The West Broad Garden is actually the only urban farm in Athens and operates from May to December. This garden is considered Community Sponsored Agriculture because it allows sponsors to pay to support that garden and, in turn, they receive a box of fresh organic produce every month. The West Broad Market Garden has been particularly influential to the Athens community because it allows the members to indulge in organic produce that they normally could not afford at the grocery store.

We're sitting right in the middle of an organic local food oasis and most of us don't even realize it. If you've been going to the Athens Farmer's Market all along, you know what I'm talking about. If not, I encourage everyone to try it, you might just find something you didn't even know you liked. 

— Amanda Horne is a junior from Cartersville majoring in political science and economics