Scaling Climate Solutions at Community Farmers Markets in Georgia

Scaling Climate Solutions at Community Farmers Markets in Georgia

Did you know that shopping at Community Farmers Markets can be a fun and impactful way to reduce emissions in Georgia?

Food shopping at farmers markets supports local climate-smart farming, reduces the greenhouse gas emissions created by transporting our food from farms to our refrigerators, and makes it easier to eat more plant-based meals, too.

How Farmers Markets Are Reducing GHG Emissions in Georgia

We spoke recently with representatives from Climate Solutions & Equity grant recipients Community Farmers Markets (CFM) about the work they are doing through their MARTA Markets program to scale climate solutions and improve access to fresh, healthy produce for Atlanta residents. 

Read on to learn more about the exciting work this grant is funding, and how CFM is leveraging farmers markets to reduce emissions in multiple creative ways.

Marta-Markets

Tell us about the work Community Farmers Markets does in the community. 

Our mission centers on building a sustainable local food system and supporting the Earth stewards who sell their products at our markets. CFM addresses food access and security through four programmatic methods:

1) Distributing food through farmers markets, and the MARTA Markets; 

2) Educating people about food through educational programming and outreach; 

3) Offering financial incentives to make local food more affordable;

4) Supporting vendors with professional development for small businesses.

The MARTA Market, in particular, leverages a built-in audience of public transit riders to create access to convenient healthy food in communities that don’t have many -- or sometimes any -- options for buying fresh produce. Through this unique distribution model, CFM aggregates farm-fresh produce from local, hyperlocal, and regional growers which is then distributed via weekly pop-up markets at seven train stations across metro Atlanta. 

Tell us about the work Community Farmers Markets does in the community. 

How does your work help reduce emissions and scale climate solutions in Georgia?

Farmers markets help cut emissions in a multitude of ways. Here are just a few examples of how our markets benefit climate:

  • Climate Smart Agriculture: We prioritize working with growers that utilize regenerative farming practices
  • Plant-Based Diets: Financial incentives are provided to customers who purchase fruit and vegetables at our markets. In addition, we plan chef demos and offer recipes at MARTA Markets to teach customers ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their daily meals. 
  • Transportation: All of our vendors come from within a 200-mile radius of the city, cutting down immensely on the carbon emissions involved in conventional produce where fruits and vegetables might even be shipped internationally. 
  • Composting: This summer we are also launching a composting initiative in partnership with the City of Atlanta and CompostNow. The project will divert food waste away from landfills and educate market visitors on how composting food scraps and other organic materials can provide benefits ranging from reducing greenhouse emissions to improving soil health to creating green jobs.

Community Farmers markets help cut emissions in a multitude of ways.

Congratulations on Community Farmers Markets receiving a 2024-2025 Climate Solutions & Equity grant. Tell us about the projects this grant will fund. 

We are very excited to receive this support from Drawdown Georgia! During the first year of the grant, CFM is launching a new project that will support local farmers, reduce food waste, and promote healthy, plant-based eating

One of the most consistent pieces of feedback the MARTA Market has received over the years is that, even though shoppers appreciate being able to buy locally sourced fruit and vegetables on their daily commute, it would be even better if they could also purchase a healthy pre-packaged snack to be eaten on the go or a pre-made meal that can be taken home and reheated. 

We had also been in conversation with some of our farmers about buying their leftover produce at the end of the market to support their businesses and reduce food waste. We paired these two opportunities to create a project that will turn surplus market produce into value-added products that will be marketed and sold at the MARTA Markets.

With the grant funding, we worked with our educational chefs to test 10 different plant-forward recipes at our market locations, distributing samples for customers to taste and collecting feedback on which recipes they liked the best and why. We called this our “MARTA Market Test Kitchen,'' and it operated during the winter and early spring markets. \

In preparation for production, we are working with our farmer partners to create an efficient system for sourcing and aggregating their excess and/or imperfect produce, which will be used to create the seasonal value-added products that our customers rated as their favorites during our test kitchen surveys. We’ve also identified a Tennessee-based company that produces 100% compostable packaging using materials sourced from sustainable growers to help meet our packaging needs. 

In phase two of our grant, we will work with one of our community partners and utilize their processing facilities to prepare and package these products into to-go snacks and take-home meals that will be available for purchase at MARTA Market locations starting in 2025. The Climate Solutions & Equity Grant made all of this possible, and we can’t wait to debut our new value-added products in the market!

We are very excited to receive this support from Drawdown Georgia! During the first year of the grant, CFM is launching a new project that will support local farmers, reduce food waste, and promote healthy, plant-based eating. 

What will success look like in your work? 

We envision a future in which Atlanta is home to a diverse, interconnected food system that promotes healthy food, sustainable ecosystems, and living wage working conditions. To achieve this, CFM leverages the power of communities by providing resources, educational programs, and sustainable food distribution models for farmers, producers, chefs, and consumers. 

While we seek to be leaders in this systemic change, success often looks like feeling the excitement of our customers when the first tomatoes arrive, or children deciding they actually do like broccoli now that they’ve tried it during one of our outreach events. 

CFM-Food-Samples

How can people follow the work Community Farmers Markets does and/or get involved in your projects? 

The best way to get involved with our work is to come to our markets! Our full market schedule is listed on our website. You can also follow us on Facebook @CommunityFarmersMarkets and @TheMARTAMarket, and on Instagram @communityfarmersmarkets and @themartamarket.

Since we are a nonprofit operation, we depend on the generosity of others to sustain the work that we do. Anyone interested in contributing to our mission can make a single donation or become a monthly giver

Has Community Farmers Markets Inspired You to Further Support Georgia Climate Solutions?

We hope so and encourage you to help CFM get the word out!

In the meantime, we invite you to stay up to date on the progress of Drawdown Georgia Climate Solutions & Equity Grant Projects. Don’t miss out on future blog posts sharing updates from the community of grantees as we continue to highlight the recipients of the Drawdown Georgia Climate Solutions & Equity grants

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