At Mableton's first market of the summer, it's "as local as you can get"

·3 min read

Jun. 4—MABLETON — It was something of a slow start for the Mableton Farmer's Market Thursday, with a handful of shoppers filtering in and out of the parking lot next to the Mable House Arts Center. But Arthur McCarver knows the crowds will come.

"Our tomatoes haven't come in, and that's—well, people love tomatoes," McCarver said, drawing out "love" to put a point on it.

Loaded with squash, canned goods, and a last late crop of greens, McCarver and Lala Abaurre said their first morning at the market was a modest success. As the summer goes on, they'll have a slew of crops to bring from their farm outside Dallas, including eggplant, peppers, okra and corn. Abaurre noted while their farm isn't organic certified, they grow everything as naturally as possible.

"We do not use any harsh chemicals, or (any) chemicals for that matter, on our plants. If you see our plants, it's going to have some dirt. It's going to have have some bugs and some bites off of it," she said, brandishing a massive bundle of greens.

Diane Bentley agreed Thursday wasn't a banner day for the market, its first opening date of the season. But she's also optimistic things will pick up once the midsummer produce starts rolling in from her Polk County farm.

"We're self-sufficient, self-sustainable, so we turn everything back around into the ground. I save all my chicken and turkey poop and then compost it, and throw it back ... and we recycle what we don't sell—maybe it gets a little bit on the rocks—and feed it back to the birds," Bentley said.

Those chickens yield her fresh eggs, selling at $4 a dozen, and she has young turkeys for sale as well. Bentley emphasized one of the perks of the market is its partnership with organizations like Wholesome Wave Georgia, which matches customers using EBT and SNAP funds on their groceries.

"If they turn in a $10 (in) SNAP, they get $30," Bentley said. Market manager Dave McDaniel, a dues-paying member of the Mableton Improvement Coalition, said that feature is one of the best parts of the weekly market.

"They can actually triple their purchasing power ... so it's a win for both the customer and the seller," McDaniel added. "This is not Kroger by any stretch. There's not a whole heck of a lot of variety, compared to the bigger stores and such, but it's a good value. It's a good community event. That's why I do it."

Nearby, the Mableton Improvement Coalition, one of the market's sponsors, had a booth set up with information about the organization and jars of local honey. Community garden manager Renee Booker eagerly jumped up to show off her pride and joy, just across Floyd Road.

"We've got 37 plots out there, and everyone does their own thing," Booker said. The honey MIC was selling was farmed by beekeepers at the garden and donated to MIC to give them a hand with fundraising.

"If you want local," she added, "that's as local as you can get."

The Mableton Farmers Market will be open at the Mable House complex (5239 Floyd Road SW) every Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., from now until August 12.

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