Athens Farmers Market: Bridging the Food Desert Gap

 At 3 p.m., local Athens farmers, agriculturists and vendors are setting up their stands on a Wednesday afternoon and covering their tables with rainbows of fresh produce and goods. At 4 p.m. sharp, local Athens shoppers start streaming in with their recyclable grocery bags ready to fill them with fruits, vegetables, jams, local honey, eggs, juices and pastries. Mothers push baby strollers while picking up groceries for dinner. College students come with their friends to shop and look around. Farmers are friendly and helpful to anyone with questions.
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The Farmers Market is open on Saturdays from 8 a.m to noon at Bishop Park and on Wednesday afternoons from 4 p.m to 7 p.m. at Creature Comforts Brewing. This market creates a mutual relationship between local Athens Farmers and the greater Athens community, providing accessible, fresh produce in areas that work to bridge the gaps of food deserts in Athens.
Sarah Thurman, the market manager, welcomes each shopper as they enter the market. for those who use SNAP to buy food for themselves and their families, can now have even more affordable access to fresh food. Sarah handles card transactions and exchanges them for wooden, market tokens that can be used in leu of food stamps at the farmers market. When used to buy produce, the tokens are doubled, providing even more access to low income community residents. This is done through the Double SNAP program. Thurman says that this way, the market prices become competitive with grocery store prices.
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Sarah Thurman– Farmers Market Manager / Photo Angelina Lewis
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Double SNAP program helps bridge the cost gap / Photo Angelina Lewis
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Double SNAP program helps bridge the cost gap / Photo Angelina Lewis

Along with bridging the gap between expensive costs, Athens transit is providing access to low access areas. University Campus buses, Health Sciences and Family Housing, stop at Creature Comforts, giving students and the Athens community transportation access to the market. But resulting from a lack of usage, the Fresh Market bus that ran on Saturdays to transport people to Bishop Park no longer runs, creating a possible stranding for those few who relied on the bus to get their fresh produce.

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Creature Comforts Brewing– Campus Transit stops at the Farmers Market on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. -7 p.m.
The Athens Farmers Market is steadily working to combat food deserts that residents living in low income or low access areas are facing. The Athens community has created a mutual relationship between consumer and the farmers, vendors and agriculturists.
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Creature Comforts Brewing– Wednesday 4 p.m.- 7 p.m. Farmers Market Photo Angelina Lewis
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USDA Athens Food Desert Map

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