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Marietta Farmers’ Market: Not Just for Farmers

By SHSJC Student Mikayla Roberts, written for JAC 310, Prof. Lynn Waltz

MARIETTA, Ga –What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘farmer’s market’? Surely not graffiti style canvases, a book truck, or homemade scrap metal lamps. Marietta’s Farmers’ Market offers their community more than just fresh beets, goat cheese, and honey. It hosts more than 60 vendors. About 25 are craftsmen and women.

On the horizon of the hill leading to Church Street, there are families who have finished shopping walking their dogs back across the train tracks to return to the center of the square downhill. They leave behind crowds of families gathered in a Starbucks back parking lot that’s filled with more than 30 tents and tables of farmers and restaurateurs.

Each family is lined up, six feet apart, sampling cheeses while they wait to pick out floral arrangements and Georgia-grown produce.

“My first time going was during the pandemic. There were so many options, and they were all fresh. It was a chance to get out of the house and feel a sense of community again,” said Gabrielle Smith, who is familiar with the Saturday morning sight.

Coming out of the circle of farmers’ tents, it’s easy to miss the parking lot just across the median that is also filled with tents and tables in front of the Marietta Square Market food court where about 25 craftsmen, artists, and innovators invite curious customers to head their way.

Kim Burgett’s bright teal trailer full of books does the advertising for her. As one of the first setups in the lot, customers gravitate to her to see what kind of books could be offered at a farmers’ market.

“We have food trucks, why not a book truck,” said Burgett, owner of Book’n It, a mobile bookstore. “This is my mainstay every Saturday morning and it’s great - I have repeat customers. People order stuff from me on my website. It’s great.”

According to Burgett, she originally wanted to be a media specialist and own her own bookstore. After getting her master’s degree, she quickly realized that the industry wasn’t everything she thought it would be.

“Book stores are having a hard time making it with overhead and competition. I’m not doing much worse off than they are… There’s no independent bookstore [in Marietta Square]. So, my first year, I set up a table and tent like everyone else here and it was a hit! From there I went looking for a trailer to make it more functional and eye catching. I love it!”

Burgett is not the only one getting customers’ attention by offering a different product than they may be expecting. Mike Marmurowicz, owner of Scrape’s Garage, specializes in welding scrap metal car parts together to make lamps, art and other home décor all in the comfort of his garage. He says he joined the market to add more welders to the bunch.

“My wife and I have been coming here for years for both the farmers’ market and the artisan market. There’s one guy that comes here that does wine bottle holders and I always thought that was interesting.”

Marmurowicz works in a factory servicing Porche cars during the day. He says, a lot of the components shown at the market are parts that are taken off of the cars and replaced. Instead of throwing them out or giving them to the junk man, he takes them home and makes unique functional pieces.

Saturday, the 17th, was Marmurowicz’s first time attending the market as a vendor rather than a customer.

“This is our first time here and within 15 minutes of setting up I sold my first piece – that wasn’t bad! So far, knock on wood, we’re doing really well.”

Anthony Hall, creator of Lydell Arts, shows off graffiti style canvases featuring Black icons a few tents down.

“I like street style art because of certain areas that I grew up in and I’m familiar with. So, I just [go] back to my childhood and remember those areas and that’s what inspires me. I’m just elated that people will come up to me and say they appreciate my art,” said Hall.

Hall started vending at the market with his wife who makes African print clothing for young girls. When his artwork took off, his wife came with him less and he started his own booth. Hall says, even though his art isn’t his main stream of income, he really enjoys the market and the community of vendors.

“When I came, they embraced me, and they encouraged me to come back as well. Little did I know, they were right. People love it. They still come back for my work and I’m just ecstatic about that. It’s like a family here!”