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Local Flavor: A Foray into the Forsyth Farmer’s Market

11 Apr 2016
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Lucky Local: SCAD Students

Lucky Savannah partnered with a class of writing students from the Savannah College of Art and Design to dig up insider info about our beautiful city. The assignment was simple: create a digital article about anything you find fun, interesting or quirky about the Hostess City to share with Lucky readers. The result is a collection of insightful and sometimes playful articles about everything from museums and juice bars to hauntings and pole dancing (true story!). We hope you enjoy reading their work as much as we do!

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By Thomas Manry

The only thing I enjoy more than kicking back and spending a day doing nothing is leaving my house to sample delicious and fresh food. So this weekend I went to the Forsyth Farmer’s Market, where dozens of vendors gather at the south end of the park every Saturday to sell locally produced foods and goods.

I can see the market from the other side of the park. From there it looks rather small, but as I get closer I’m overwhelmed by its atmosphere. The first thing I notice is the crowd. It’s not exactly bustling—you can walk down the middle of the path without bumping into anyone—but every vendor has a few customers and families milling around. The stalls are well organized along the sides of a wide walkway, and giant trees shade the entire area, with dapples of sunlight slipping through here and there. If there weren’t for the dogs on leashes, cars in the distance, and my own cellphone in my pocket, it might have felt like something out of the past.

The first stall I encounter is smaller than the others, but armed with a fully stocked chicken coop that draws a small crowd of children. The vendor, Brandon Chonko, sells sausages and eggs, all fresh from his headquarters at Grassroots Farms.

“There’s something about farmer’s markets,” says Brandon. “I don’t know if it’s the open outdoor aspect that is more interesting and just comforting to most people.”

I can certainly agree with him. After all I fell for the market’s charm almost immediately. Continuing on, I’m surprised by the number and variety of businesses represented at the market. Not only farmers, but even wildly successful local wholesalers like PERC Coffee present. There’s one guy selling mushrooms he digs up himself (and he was completely sold out by the time I got to the front of the line).

I had thought the market would be mainly to peddle vegetables, but this place is closer to an open-air grocery store, with a bit of a carnival atmosphere. Walking behind a family carrying potted flowers they just purchased, I find myself at the end of the park, where health screenings are being held. I’m not very interested in having a checkup, so I turn around. Then I am drawn back to the north end of the market by the sound of guitar playing from a group sat on a bench. A guy in a bear suit attempts to dance to it.

I decide it’s time to buy something. I already know what I want: cheese. I stop at the Charleston  Artisan Cheesehouse, a brand I recognize from local stores. I’m a little shocked when the vendor, Heather Holmes, reveals herself as the owner of the business. She has been coming here for years now. On the table is one of those cheeses with an exceptionally thick rind, with an inner core that seems to ooze out and slop over the sides of the crust. Noticing me staring, Heather cuts a piece for me. The cheese really does ooze, but in a way that compels me to eat it. “It’s Brie,” she informs me as I struggle to keep it from flopping out of my hand. She reminds me that it’s fresh, or at least as fresh as aged dairy can be.

I end up buying a little Brie, some cream cheese, and half a loaf of bread. I eat under a tree near the market as I watch the vendors pack up their tents and chickens. None of them really have any goods to leave with.

On the way home I find myself wishing I had bought more of the bread. Or some of the sold-out mushrooms. And I hadn’t even sampled that much food; I spent most of the day just admiring it. I think next weekend I might just arrive a bit earlier.