When Peachtree Road Farmers Market Manager Lauren Carey sees a problem, chances are she’s about to find a solution.
A prime example was creating The Farmer Fund in 2015, after torrential downpours wiped out several farms a few years prior. The Fund, which exists to support farmers in the face of natural disasters and help keep farmers farming, is now planning their second major fundraiser with another fun calendar to boot (stay tuned, says Carey).
Another opportunity to solve a problem arose at the 7th Annual Atlanta Local Food Initiative (ALFI) Fruit Tree Sale, held on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Carey received feedback from shoppers at Peachtree Road Farmers Market that they’d like to see a wider selection of fruit at the market. During conversations with ALFI Director Suzanne Girdner about potentially hosting the 2017 Fruit Tree Sale, Girdner mentioned that leftover trees have been an issue for ALFI, which has partnered with the Wylde Center, Farmer D, and Truly Living Well to make use of extra trees in the past.
Sensing opportunity, Carey inquired about a discount for buying leftover trees.
Girdner jumped at the opportunity, and worked out an arrangement for Carey to buy the trees at a reduced price. After purchasing the trees, Carey gave almost $5,000 worth of trees away to farmers of Peachtree Road Farmers Market.
Giving the trees to farmers who would sell fruit back to the community was a victory for everyone.
“Carey asked, ‘How do I support our farmers at market?’” said Girdner. “They told her they wanted more fruit selections to offer, and she found a way to support them while expanding their market share.”
Additionally, the sales will support ALFI for another year and fund additional fruit tree plantings as a part of The Orchard Project, which installs edible school and community orchards that aim to feed, teach, and inspire.
“The Orchard Project is multifaceted,” said Robby Astrove, who leads plantings for the Orchard Project. “Obviously there’s a component about food access and getting more local food in the community. But there’s also harnessing the power of the fruit tree, which is the most productive, longest living form of agriculture. Creating food for decades from one simple planting is pretty incredible.”
The community plantings also lead to several educational and empowerment opportunities, career skills, and, best of all, memories for a lifetime.
“Seeing the community interest around growing their own fruit is exciting,” Girdner added. “We have skilled master gardeners, mothers looking to engage their children in food production and urban dwellers perfecting their container gardens.”
And if you weren’t able to make it out to this year’s sale, you can always pick up some locally grown fruit at Peachtree Road Farmers Market…well, in a year or two.