Rotary gets acquainted with Bainbridge Farmers’ Market

Published 8:24 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rotary speaker DSCF6058

If you are one who wonders about the new Bainbridge Farmers’ Market, or why it is needed, then Tuesday’s Rotary Club speaker, Carol Dupree, can give you all the answers.

The newly formed market began when a group of eleven interested persons met with Mack Lane, a local organic farmer who was interested in finding an outlet for his produce. That group, of which Dupree is a member, became the guiding board for the new initiative.

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Dupree cited statistics that show Farmers’ Markets stimulate the local economy by returning three times the amounts of sales to the local economy, and 80 percent of the vendors reported more sales opportunities than in other outlets.

In addition to providing really fresh food sources, Farmers’ Markets are good places to hang out and educate each other, whether learning new farming tips, or exchanging recipes.

They also work in collaboration with the Downtown Development Authority to help promote their activities.

Dupree said the initial market day in October saw participation from 13 vendors and was visited by over 300 customers. The vendors come from all over the area and include such products as grass grown beef from the Thomasville area and baked goods from the Mennonite bakery near Colquitt. The group of vendors is growing, and averages 12 per week, although not every vendor is there every week. Some alternate bi-weekly.

It is worth noting that local businesses around the square also have reported increased sales since the market opened and that some of the local restaurants are buying their fresh produce at the Farmers’ Market.

The local group, which is sponsored by Edward Jones Financial, Southern States,

Farm Credit and Lady Moon Farms, is in the process of establishing a 501C(3) designation.

Future plans include starting a community garden similar to the one in Havana, Fla. They would also like to see more school participation. Currently the second grade students at John Johnson Elementary School grow a garden and have brought their produce to sell at the market.

It is a great learning experience for the students, who not only learn how to plant, care for and harvest a garden, but also how to manage sales and finances.

Another goal is to have cooking demonstrations at the market to help people learn new and healthy ways to prepare what they are buying.

The market continues to be open on the square every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, through December 20. It will start up again in March and run through June.

Persons interested in being a vendor can complete an application on-line at Cost is $15 weekly, and once approved, is a week by week commitment.

“We are here to bring Bainbridge back to the table,” concluded Dupree.