See a farm, eat a meal, raise some dough

Fall events add a revenue stream for farmers, markets

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Community Farmers Markets—the organization that oversees the Decatur, East Atlanta, and Grant Park farmers markets—has scheduled events throughout the fall to keep local food on your mind and some cash in the coffers.

Remember all that rain we had this summer? It did more than damage crops and send the occasional farmers market shopper running for cover. It dramatically reduced income for some of the farmers who depend on robust market sales to pay their bills. And it harmed the markets themselves, which operate on razor-thin budgets to pay operating expenses, advertise and educate, and extend financial assistance to lower-income shoppers. “People might think, ‘Oh, farmers markets, why do they need to raise money?’ But it’s for our operational budget and to make sure the people who need it have access to fresh, healthy food,” says Katie Hayes, executive director of Community Farmers markets.

To make up for that lost opportunity, Hayes and market volunteers are hustling to get a few fund-raising events on the books for autumn. Some activities have been in the works for a while; others are works in progress. All offer participants a chance to visit some of the places that produce really fine local food.

Proceeds will benefit Community Farmers Markets. Participating farmers will benefit as well. “We pay our farmer sites for their contribution,” Hayes says.

Mark the dates below on your calendar. And then click on the links to buy your tickets. You’re not too late to get in on this Sunday’s farm dinner (tickets will be on sale through Saturday or until the dinner sells out).

Sept. 22, Southeast First farm dinner: Just as farmers markets reflect the ethnic diversity of their communities, this benefit dinner will reflect some of the cultural influences on the Atlanta food scene. Asha Gomez of Cardamon Hill (Indian) and Lanie Vu of Dumpling Girl (Vietnamese) will join Dave Roberts of Community Q and Steven Satterfield of Miller Union for an East-meets-Southeast celebration. Before dinner, enjoy a tour of host farm Love is Love at Gaia Gardens, hors d’ouerves, and a cocktail created by Jerry Slater of H. Harper Station. Tickets are $90; vegetarian entrees available upon advance request.

Oct. 12-13, Tour de Farm: If you’re an avid cyclist, you’ll love this two-day glimpse of the “country” tucked in and around our city. But this second annual Tour de Farm also offers a self-driving option for those who are less interested in the “tour” and more interested in “de farm.” Whether you decide to bike or drive, you’ll get access to some of the great farms and farm-friendly vendors that anchor the Decatur, East Atlanta and Grant Park farmers markets. Highlights include the Decatur Kitchen Garden, Patchwork City Farm, Scharko Farms, Cosmos Organic Farm, and Le Tre Lune Farm, which will host a Saturday night dinner and campout. Do the full tour for $150, one day for $100, or dinner and camping only for $50. Learn more and buy tickets here.

Oct. 27, Frolona Farm Fall Feast (family fun in Franklin, of course): Discover the timeless beauty of Frolona, a historic farm in hilly West Georgia dating to the 19th century. Enjoy hay rides and exploration before sitting down to a family-friendly supper featuring Frolona’s pastured pork prepared by chef Jenn Robbins of Avalon Catering. There will even be organic wine and beer for the grown-ups. Learn more here.

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