Emory Farmers Market reduces waste, increases options

By Olivia Morgan | Emory Report | Sept. 17, 2017

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Now headed into its 10th year, the weekly Emory Farmers Market welcomes new vendors and launches a rewards program for customers who bring reusable bags. Emory Photo/Video

The Emory Farmers Market has been a staple of the community since 2008 when it opened on the campus with its original seven vendors. The market was envisioned as part of Emory’s Sustainable Food Initiative, bringing the Emory community the opportunity to build relationships with farmers and producers who grow and make their food.

Now heading into its 10th year and under the management of Taylor Spicer, programs coordinator for the Office of Sustainability Initiatives, and Mark Seals, the new assistant director of Emory Dining, the market hosts over 20 vendors that sell a variety of produce and products to satisfy all taste buds.

“Every year, we continue to make changes to the market that enhance education, bring quality farmers and producers to our community, and build relationships around food and community,” says Spicer.

The market is held every Tuesday during the academic year, weather permitting, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cox Hall Bridge.

Originally, the Emory Farmers Market was led by the Market Sub-Committee, which oversaw the kinds of food to be sold, labeling, certification, location and market promotion. In spring 2017, the sub-committee was reinstated to continue to improve community, operations, programming and outreach for the market.

Students, faculty and market staff members meet twice a year to review new vendor applications and brainstorm ways to help the market achieve its mission: "Through a weekly gathering of farmers, chefs, small-scale artisanal businesses and Emory customers, the Emory Farmers Market fosters educational opportunities and personal relationships through food and supports economic, social and environmental sustainability."

“The engagement of the new Farmers Market Sub-Committee has allowed us to assess our operations and better serve our vendors, while expanding our outreach and education to connect more of the Emory community to the market,” says Spicer.

Welcoming new vendors, reducing waste

This fall, the Market Sub-Committee is very enthusiastic to have Sweet, Sweet Syria join the weekly market. At their table, Emory community members will find handmade, artisanal cookies created by Ruwaida, a Syrian refugee, who is carrying on a tradition her mother taught her before her family fled to the United States. Ruwaida shared her date, chocolate, coconut and pistachio cookies with those who helped her family get settled, and they loved the cookies so much that these friends are now helping Ruwaida share her cookies with the Atlanta community. 

Last year, recognizing that the market as a central meeting spot, the market managers began an effort to reduce the number of plastic bags used by customers and vendors. Customers were offered a reusable bag when they made a purchase and asked to bring them back. Many vendors also supported this effort by phasing out plastic bags and replacing them with paper ones.

This year, to continue Emory’s progress toward diverting 95 percent of waste from the landfill by 2025, market patrons will be incentivized to bring their reusable bags by entering the reusable bag rewards program. Customers will receive a program card, which vendors will mark each time a customer brings a reusable bag. Once a customer has brought a bag three times, they will be entered into a quarterly raffle for market products, gift certificates and reusable items. Rewards cards will be available at the new weekly information table.

For those interested in hosting an educational table, performing or showing art at the Emory Farmers Market, Emory students, faculty and staff may submit requests to share at any of the weekly markets. Community members are also encouraged to follow the Emory Farmers Market on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date on all of the upcoming markets.