New Westside market crams a lot of farm into a city space

More than 1,500 stopped by during yesterday’s debut

Courtesy of Jamie Hausman

If there’s one word to describe the new Westside Provisions District Farmers Market, it has to be “dense.” Snuggled into an unnamed lane off Howell Mill Road, between Yeah! Burger and Yoforia frozen yogurt, the market squeezed about 20 more businesses, albeit temporarily, into the growing shopping and eating hotspot.

But a few tight spots, particularly a bottleneck near a peach stand, didn’t slow anyone down too much. Shoppers seemed delighted to discover visiting farmers in this especially citified neighborhood. A few nearby businesses opened their doors during market hours as well, and that, coupled with free, convenient parking and expert oversight from the umbrella organization Community Farmers Market, all but guarantee its success.

“It went so much better than expected,” says market manager Jamie Hausman, who was hoping for a few hundred visitors and instead counted about 1,500. “I just didn’t really know what parts of our community would come out for it.” Hausman is also a contributing writer for this magazine.

Good vendors don’t hurt, either. Westside features some popular vendors already known to regular market-goers, such as Riverview Farms, Watsonia Farm and King of Pops. But the market has also made room for some solid vendors that shoppers may not know as well. Lorri Mason of Stems ‘N Roots has been on the local food scene since 2002, but mostly at markets close to her Douglasville backyard farm. Turnrow Bath Body & Home is a new name, but the family and farm behind the hand-made products, Scharko, is a locavore stalwart.

Hausman has lived in the Westside neighborhood since moving to Atlanta two years ago, but she didn’t like the long haul to her nearest farmers markets: Peachtree Road, Freedom, and Grant Park. So last summer, the freelance journalist started making phone calls. By autumn, she had identified about 30 vendors interested in participating in a Westside market and an organization, Community Farmers Markets, that might be able to launch it.

“They said, ‘Well, you’ve already done a lot of the legwork. Do you want us to just help you seal the deal?’ So we started getting to work.” Community Farmers Markets, which oversees the Decatur, East Atlanta Village, and Grant Park farmers markets, brings not only structure and experience to Westside but also educational and outreach programs, including cooking and gardening demonstrations, kids’ activities, and double SNAP benefits through Wholesome Wave.

Westside Provisions District Farmers Market (here’s to hoping that gets shortened through use to “the Westside market”) is open Sundays through Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.