Sandy Springs Farmers Market co-founder Andy Bauman hugs wife Debbie, right, daughter Anna Rose, front center, with son Evan, left, nearby. Back, Domenic Luca, with Zio Micu’s Garden.
Sandy Springs Farmers Market co-founder Andy Bauman hugs wife Debbie, right, daughter Anna Rose, front center, with son Evan, left, nearby. Back, Domenic Luca, with Zio Micu’s Garden.

In the spring of 2010, two Sandy Springs citizens opened a Farmer’s Market on the corner of Johnson Ferry Road and Sandy Springs Circle.

Andy Bauman and Jeff Langfelder worked tirelessly for many months visiting area farms, researching market best practices, and putting together a plan to create a Sandy Springs Farmers Market for our community.

But Andy and Jeff created more than a weekly shopping experience for those seeking the freshest locally grown produce. They fashioned a “town square” feeling where friends and neighbors came together for coffee and conversation while exploring rows of farm fresh eggs, pasture-raised meat, artisan cheeses and a wide variety of prepared foods.

After shaping and growing the market for four seasons, Andy and Jeff passed along the management of the weekly event to Heritage Sandy Springs, the not-for-profit organization that operates the Heritage Sandy Springs Museum, presents the annual Sandy Springs Festival, and produces summer and winter concerts for the community. With 30 years of experience in presenting exhibits, programs, lectures, concerts, festivals and events, assuming oversight of the Farmers Market felt like a natural fit for HSS.

For the first four seasons, the market was located at 235 Sandy Springs Circle at the site of the former Target store. As part of the city master plan, the city of Sandy Springs is preparing this site for the development of a new City Center/downtown area. As a result, the Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market moved to a new location in May 2015 and is now staged at the corner of Lake Forrest Drive and Mount Vernon Highway in the parking lot of Century Springs East.

While vendors and attendees love the border of shady trees at the new site, they can make it hard to see the market from the corner, so watch for the signs or use your GPS with the street address 6100 Lake Forrest Drive.

Transitions of location and market management could not have gone more smoothly. Thirty-four markets were held in 2014 with customer attendance averaging 900 to 1,000 people. Many of those are market regulars who get to know the farming families who grow their produce and prepare specialty items, and the most popular items sell out quickly in the first few hours.

Farms have been vetted to ensure that they are growing their produce, and arts and crafts sold at the market must be handmade. Each week features an acoustic musician and onsite activities include the “Little Diggers” and “Gardening by the Springs” programs, as well as occasional chef demonstrations.

The sights, sounds and smells of the market are addictive, and I miss being there when I am unable to attend. On any given Saturday, you can run into your city councilman, pick up some delicious homemade goodies, indulge in a hot, made-to-order breakfast and choose fresh, organic seasonal produce.

I always see people I know at the market – from current colleagues to neighbors from years ago when our kids rode the same school bus to Woodland Elementary.

If you are a regular market visitor, thank you for your patronage of our vendors. While some prices may be higher than traditional groceries, you know what you are getting and where it comes from. You can shake the hand of the person who grew it, and the farmers are always happy to share simple and tasty recipes.

If you have not visited the Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market, we invite you to make it a regular stop on your Saturday morning round – not only will you be welcomed with a smile, you are likely to see an old friend or maybe even make a new one. The Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market brings that small town community feel to our bustling city, so come and experience the vibe.

If you want to build community, you have to invest in it.

Carol Thompson is executive director of Heritage Sandy Srprings.