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June 5, 2013

Saturday Market a homegrown success

— The clouds gathered in way that suggested rain Saturday, but that didn’t stop the crowd at the inaugural Athens Saturday Market.

Spirit of Athens staff said they had a “consistent” level of foot traffic during the 8 a.m. to noon event, and had some people turned away simply because the vendors had sold out.

“We felt like it was a great success,” market chairwoman Laurie Glenn said. “We were thrilled with the number of customers we had.”

Glenn said she has high expectations for the coming market this week. Returning vendors will have more produce, she said, but customers should still plan to come early. There will also be more varieties of products, such as goat cheese, squash and zucchini.

Like Glenn, Spirit of Athens director Trisha Black said she has high hopes for the rest of the Athens Saturday Market season based on last week’s numbers.

“We’re doing what the community wants and what they’ve been asking for,” Black said. “It feels good to be a part of something like this. I see more and more that people are willing to roll up their sleeves and make Athens a better place.”

The Athens Saturday Market is the culmination of more than a year’s worth of planning by Spirit of Athens and city residents looking for a location closer than Madison to purchase fresh fruit and veggies.

“It seemed like Athens was absolutely ready for it,” Glenn said. “We’re just really excited.”

As the summer progresses, Glenn said more vendors will make their way in with seasonal produce, such as peaches, blueberries, watermelons, peas and beans. Currently, the group is searching for a meat provider.

A SOA subcommittee was also established Tuesday to coordinate the renovation of the Farmers Market lot into a “green space,” or sustainable gardening spot.

Black said the city is ready to install sidewalks in the area at the corner of Green and South Houston streets, but the work will not interfere with market business.

The next Athens Saturday Market will be Saturday, June 8, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and will continue until August. Applications for vendors are still being accepted.

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