City of residence: Elko
Occupation: Farmers market promoter and local-grown food advocate
Q: How long has there been a Perry Farmers’ Market?
A: This is its 13th year.
Q: When is it open?
A: It’s open all year-round on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
Q: And where?
A: We’re on Carroll Street near the old courthouse. It used to be behind the Perry Arts Center, but we moved it right downtown.
Q: What will shoppers typically find?
A: Local honey, fresh eggs, seasonal produce, pasture-raised meats like beef, pork, chicken and lamb, great baked goods and other treats.
Q: Other treats?
A: A variety, but there are prepared foods and treats like blintzes made by a Russian couple from Siberia who live here now. Most people probably know blintzes as crepes. There’s locally made pottery and crafts. And music. We have pretty steady live music. The Russian couple even play music at times. There’s a fun community spirit at the market.
Q: Where do farmers market items come from?
A: From farmers. Typically it’s local from within 100 miles of here, but usually much closer. There are some folks from Emmanuel County, but mostly it’s Houston and very close by, like Bleckley County, Twiggs, from farmers and backyard gardeners.
Q: Who sponsors the market?
A: The Perry Main Street Program and Land to Hand. Perry Main Street promotes preservation and economic development in downtown Perry.
Q: What is Land to Hand?
A: A nonprofit that helps bring about awareness of local food culture and food producers and products. We work with local growers and farmers markets and like to help small, food-based businesses get a start and grow. We also create events and fundraising activities for groups around food like the Localicious foodie event we had in April in Warner Robins and the Farm Fresh Fridays we do around Middle Georgia with local businesses.
Q: What’s your connection to Land to Hands.
A: I’m co-founder.
Q: Land to Hand also operates the International City Farmers Market Thursdays in Warner Robins, right?
Q: Why do you consider a farmers market a good place to shop?
A: The key is knowing your farmer, knowing how your food is grown and the opportunity to get fresher foods, usually picked in the last 48 hours. Knowing the farmer lets consumers find out about their products and how they were grown, how they were treated. It helps keep things small and at a community level. That’s a good thing in my opinion.
Q: How did you get interested in all this?
A: I moved here eight years ago and wondered where the local farmers market was. I like fresh food and didn’t find it. That led to me meeting folks and farmers and then to starting the Warner Robins market. That led to Perry contacting me to manage theirs. It’s just creating opportunities for people to get local food and have a fun, community-based destination to enjoy. We have local artists, too. There’s an artist who sells work at a shop on Carroll Street who comes out Saturday mornings and paints scenes of the market. It’s fun to watch.
Q: So you try to tie in existing businesses with the market?
A: Yes. And Simply Southern Sweets is an example of an actual bakery open in Perry now that started at a farmers market and grew into a full-blown bakery. They just moved to Ball Street there on the square. We love helping launch new businesses. It’s very neat getting to support them then seeing them wanting to continue to support us.
Q: Are farmers markets all cash-and-carry?
A: Cash is fine, but we take debit and credit cards. Another great thing is people can use EBT at the market. That’s great because people at lower incomes can come get the good, fresh, nutritional products we have at the market. That’s really important to us in what we do.
Q: How can people contact the farmers market or you at Land to Hand?
A: The best thing would be to come see us at the market. You’ll be glad you came. But we’re online at www.landtohand.org.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.