Photos by Carina Plasencia
Fresh, locally grown food is now accessible to a larger and more diverse portion of Macon’s population.The Mulberry Market, a local producers-only farmer’s market, has outgrown their original location on Mulberry Street and will move to Tattnall Square Park on Oct. 15. The move came as little surprise to those involved. “We realized about two years ago that we were quickly outgrowing our space,” said Market Manager Lacey Templeton in an e-mail.
The group chose Tattnall long before it began to undergo serious changes. “I just knew, in my heart,” said Templeton, “that Tattnall was the place where the market could grow to serve and benefit the greatest number of people.”
Tattnall provides the Market with various amenities such parking, restrooms and running water that are not present at their current location. The park is currently being retrofitted to provide vendors with reliable electric outlets, an improvement over the old units at Mulberry Street. Melissa Macker, the founder of Itty Bitty Herb Farm and vendor at Mulberry Market since last May, had someone approach her booth and mention the lack of parking. The customer said he passed by all the time but never stopped because there wasn’t any parking..
The Market was created in 2011 to provide fresh, locally grown food to downtown Macon. However, it has not reached all of its intended customers.
A large number of the market’s current customers walk to the market because they live or work downtown. However, Templeton believes that a large number of these people have automobiles and will be able to drive to Tattnall, which is 1.4 miles from the original location. In addition, the large numbers of lower-income residents in the areas that surround Tattnall Square Park will now be able to walk and get fresh food. “We anticipate seeing many new shoppers,” said Templeton. “With the future addition of more sidewalks, we expect to see many more people walking up to the market.”
The Market’s agreement with Wholesome Wave Georgia, a non-profit that matches EBT/SNAP dollars at participating Farmer’s Market, provides lower-income citizens with increased access to healthier food.
“We are able to match up to $20 that every SNAP recipient uses off his or her card once a week,” said Templeton. “Our market has committed to raising 40 percent of the matched dollars this year. This subsidy makes it possible for many low income residents to shop at the market by nearly doubling their purchasing power.”
The move has generated some excitement. “I am thrilled that we are being included in the grand plans for Tattnall Square Park,” said Templeton. “Its transformation into the vision that Friends of Tattnall Square Park has is going to be truly remarkable.”
“As far as the College Hill Corridor initiative goes, we are very excited that the Mulberry Market will be moving to Tattnall Square Park,” said Jessica Walden, Director of Communications and Outreach. “That puts it right in the heart of the neighborhood.”
Once the Market moves, it intends to expand its role in the community. “We plan to continue with our visiting Master Gardener’s table each month, and we are excited to be working with the Macon Little Free Library on some children’s reading events,” said Templeton.