Teri Schell is executive director of Forsyth Farmers' Market and one of its founders. She also serves as a community builder for the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities and is on the executive committee of the Savannah Chatham Food Policy Council. Communication professional Jan McIntire is CRI Senior Advisor for Outreach and a self-proclaimed evangelist for healthy living.
VISIT THE south end of Forsyth Park on a Saturday morning – yes, even in the winter – and you’ll find an array of tents, booths, and stands with eye-popping displays that include vegetables, greens, pastured meats, honey, breads, and many other healthy and delicious ingredients for any meal.
Forsyth Farmers’ Market (FFM), a 501c3 nonprofit, organizes the weekly event.
Located at the south end of Forsyth Park, the Market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. SNAP dollars are doubled at the market. The FFM Bring It Home initiative combines activity at the park with cooking demonstrations and information about how to use nutritious food as a way to prevent chronic disease. Learn more by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
We spoke to Teri Schell, executive director FFM and one of its founders, to find out more about the market and the people who make it happen.
CRISP: What makes FFM important to Savannah?
Teri: FFM is a community effort to help people understand firsthand where their food comes from, how it was grown, who did the growing, and why it is healthy. At FFM, you can actually talk to the person who harvested the lettuce you're going to eat. We know that straightforward connection matters to people. It matters to us, too.
CRISP: FFM goes beyond the market to reach the community with programs such as Mixed Greens and its Little Green Wagon project and The Forsyth Farmers' Almanac. Tell us more.
Teri: You can think of Mixed Greens as our outreach group. The group works together to support FFM with projects and learning opportunities. Mixed Greens is supported by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities Real Communities initiative and provides connection and collaboration for people with and without disabilities.
On second Saturdays at FFM, the Mixed Greens team members invite kids to plant seeds in the Little Green Wagon at the main FFM booth. The Mixed Greens care for the plants during the week, and on Saturdays, the young planters can visit their plants and check on them.
The Forsyth Farmers’ Almanac is one of my favorite projects. We originally thought it would be a one-time effort to collect stories and photos about people’s experiences growing up and growing food. During the collection process, we discovered there are so many wonderful and inspiring stories, that we’re already working on a second book. We’re happy to accept stories and volunteers for this project.
CRISP: What would you like more people to know about FFM?
Teri: We'd like to get the word out to more people that FFM is a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) redemption site and that we double SNAP dollars thanks to our partnership with Wholesome Wave Georgia. Two for one is a great way to stretch the family food budget.
Another FFM activity that we’re particularly proud of is the health screenings provided by Mercer University School of Medicine. Those take place nine months of the year and provide our customers with baseline health data and nutritional advice.
CRISP: Why aren't there more types of items for sale at FFM?
Teri: We only accept food vendors at FFM because our mission is to support a local healthy food system. That means giving all our time and attention to the farmers who bring their food to FFM. Many have been participating since we started the market in 2009. They're not just our farmers, they're our friends, and we hope Savannah residents and visitors will get to know them, too.
CRISP: Friendly people. Quality food. Fun! Visit the Forsyth Farmers Market soon for a fresh taste of Savannah!