Written by Brenda Julian-Yanez
Home to mostly joggers, dog-walkers and tourists, Forsyth Park also houses Savannah’s weekly Farmers Market. Saturday mornings, the park’s southern end—the intersection of Park Avenue and Bull Street—is lined with booths. Here, vendors display their locally sourced products, from fruits and vegetables to baked and canned goods.
At the entrance, a sign in bold letters reads: “First Visit? Stop Here!” The double-booth, a starting point for first-time visitors, is also a necessary stop for people who use food stamps. Through a partnership with Wholesome Wave Georgia, the farmers market uses a token system to double a resident’s funds for up to $50. The Georgia-based grant allows a food stamp recipient to swipe his or her EBT card in exchange for wooden tokens that can be used to make purchases with the local vendors.
“So much of the job we have to do is educate people,” Bryan Pridgen, the market manager, clarifies. Although Forsyth’s Farmers Market is one of the biggest users of Wholesome Wave Georgia, Pridgen explains that many residents still don’t know that they can double their funds at the local market.
The mission of the partnership is twofold: to give Georgians access to healthy food and to help farmers promote their businesses. Although the number of sellers rotates depending on the season, the park hosts up to 40 vendors. Pridgen boasts that you won’t find beaded necklaces here because this isn’t a craft market. Rather, all the goods in this producer-only market are sourced within 200 miles of Savannah.
Besides the food stamp benefits, another extension of the Forsyth’s Farmers Market is Farm Truck 912, a mobile market. Essentially, a converted food truck, the mobile market regularly visits neighborhoods with restricted access to fresh food.