Monday, August 31, 2009


I'm sitting in a parking lot trying to sell my furniture and art work. Saturday morning you will often find me in some parking lot some where in the Atlanta Metro area. I am surrounded by growers, as in farmers. Then there's the vendors with the specialty products. Food stuff mostly. Most always organic, local and sustainably produced.

I have been making a living this way for about 12 or 13 years now. This morning I am at the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute for the annual Summers Harvest Farmers Market. Looking around I see mostly Chefs and students in their uniform. There's live music, prepared foods, artisan
cheese, art, a young lady selling soil made from the organic waste from the local Whole Foods Store and many other like minded merchants. Chefs demos are scheduled for later in the day.

If you didn't know any better you might think this market is a bust. There are not a lot of customers and the weather is questionable. But take a closer look and you see a few folks wandering around checking out each vendor, maybe having a short conversation about their product. And that's how it happens and that's how this movement is being built into a billion dollar industry.

As more folks show up and wander the market they will stop at the different booths and get the scoop on each vendors product or service they offer. The young lady selling soil or compost to be more precise, will repeat over and over again to anyone interested about her product, where it's from, how it's made and how to use it. The farmer will educate you on his heirloom veggies and the guy selling grass fed beef will inform you all about his operation and why it's better then business as usual. They will offer you a sample they have prepared on their portable cook top. You can buy if you like or just taste and learn.

These markets are the grass roots effort to inform and make available all this goodness to the public. It may not look like a lot's going on , but information is traded and relationships are started. Like the chef who meet's the farmer who will grow what the chef needs, or the cheese broker who can keep a steady supply coming so the chef can add it to his menu. The folks just interested in buying a product on a regular basics can find out what stores sell it, or get directions to the farm so they might purchase directly from the producer.

You don't see huge advertising campaings for this industry, instead it happns like I described above, one conversation at a time. One person at a time who next week drags a friend to the local framers market. And so on and so on.