Through our extensive partnership network and collaborations, the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Georgia Food Oasis are always looking for ways to infuse innovative ideas to strengthen the local food system and provide better access to fresh, healthy foods in local communities. So when we heard Denise Whitfield’s (MARTA Retail Development and Concessions Planning) interview on NPR discussing MARTA’s desire to host produce stands at MARTA stations, we were intrigued. Transportation is a key factor in improving access to food, especially for underserved communities that have indicated a need for retail opportunities to access affordable fresh and healthy food.
On July 10, in partnership with MARTA, Community Farmer's Markets (CFM), South West Atlanta Growers (SWAG), the Food Bank and Georgia Food Oasis, the Fresh MARTA Market was launched at the West End MARTA Station (680 Lee Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30310). The market is set to open on Fridays from 2-6:00 pm through October 30. The market showcases produce harvested in the West End by growers who belong to SWAG, alongside other sustainably grown produce and some non-local items. Additionally, the market offers 2 for 1 SNAP, a SWAG info booth, cooking demos, benefits screenings and West End farm bike tours on third Fridays.
Each of the partners in the Fresh MARTA Market represents a unique, yet essential perspective to the venture; a collaboration of community, farmers, market and transportation. While we all have individual perspectives, we share a similar overall goal through this pilot: to develop a model that can be duplicated throughout MARTA that provides partners and local growers economic opportunities, while providing the community with greater access to affordable, fresh and healthy foods. The Fresh MARTA Market is not an end or a comprehensive solution but it is a start and opportunity to engage farmers and consumers outside of the traditional farmer’s market model. Ideally in future years, farmers would have individual agreements with MARTA to operate stands at all 37 transit stations.
In addition to the Fresh MARTA Market, the Food Bank and Georgia Food Oasis are involved with operation of two additional produce markets: Urban Perform on Saturdays from 9:00 am -1:00 pm and Shamrock Gardens on Wednesdays from 4-7:00 pm. All markets offer affordable produce from local and non-local growers, as well as the 2 for 1 SNAP incentive. If interested in volunteering at any of the Food Oasis affiliated markets, please click HERE, and enter "markets" in the search box.
-Cicely Garrett, Food Systems Innovation Manager
About Food Oasis:
The Atlanta Community Food Bank is involved in a collaborative effort of community, organizations, business, funders, etc. to improve fresh and healthy food distribution in underserved neighborhoods. The Georgia Food Oasis program helps communities develop innovative and affordable ways for residents to discover, taste and learn about food. By working together, neighbors, nonprofits and community leaders can help community members shop smarter, eat healthier and feel better. Through an Eat – Cook – Grow strategy, the Georgia Food Oasis will enhance opportunities for residents to come together to cook up their own food future. While the Westside Atlanta is the pilot location, the Food Oasis will be replicated throughout Georgia. Over the next 3 years, ACFB will expand Food Oasis throughout the City of Atlanta, while Georgia Organics focuses on expanding Food Oasis throughout the state. www.georgiafoodoasis.org