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March 2, 2023

Revamped Brunswick farmers market coming this month

Forward Brunswick is looking to revamp the farmers market in Mary Ross Waterfront Park by bringing in “Real Food, Real Farmers.”

That’s the tagline for the program, which will feature curated local producers every second and fourth Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. A small fee paid by vendors will cover the cost of a paid market staffer who will help people pay with SNAP and EBT benefits.

“We are working with local places,” said Foster Hayes, Forward Brunswick spokesman. “Each one will be within Brunswick or the surrounding areas — Brantley County, Waycross, along those lines. … Our mission is to bring in local farmers bringing in local food they themselves are growing.”

Everything is managed by Forward Brunswick, which aims to coordinate businesses, government agencies and other groups in the city to perform revitalization projects and promote economic development.

Hayes said the organization will work to make sure the market offers a wide variety of food as well.

“Mainly veggies, but we are working with a meat vendor as well,” he said. “We partner with Schroeder’s Market, so any excess food they’re going to buy back. Anything that’s there will get sold one way or another. Nothing will be wasted.”

The initiative came about because larger companies were overshadowing local farmers, Hayes said. Because of the disorganized nature of the market, he said the program allows for someone to check in and take payment from people using benefits to pay for produce.

“Since we’re taking SNAP and EBT somebody has to check them in and provide them the coins that will be their payment when they’re there,” Hayes said.

Forward Brunswick has three objectives with the new market, Hayes said: increasing the availability of fresh, local food to help eliminate food deserts and hunger; supporting local farmers and food producers; and making downtown Brunswick a Saturday shopping destination for visitors and residents.

“Forward Brunswick is excited to help bring this market to our community,” said executive director Lance Sabbe. “Partnering with the city of Brunswick Downtown Development Authority and the Highway 17 Georgia Grown trail, this project will be a great added amenity to everyone in our area. I look forward to seeing everyone getting to know where their food is coming from in Southeast Georgia.”