In April, amid news reports of farmers allowing acres of unsold produce to rot as hungry people queued outside food banks, Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin emailed the state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. He wanted to know whether there was a way to open the city’s farmers market in a way that was safe and would not expose its residents to the coronavirus.
Black called Tumlin the next morning.
“I wonder if we’re dreaming big enough,” the commissioner said. “Could we dream a little bigger for Cobb?”
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, Cobb’s Al Bishop Softball Complex, which is across the street from Jim Miller Park, will host a drive-thru farmer’s market featuring four growers from south Georgia, each among the largest in the state.
Given the risk posed by the coronavirus, the market will not be “the normal waltz through the Square in Marietta,” Black said. Instead, shoppers will drive through the market, where workers will load their cars with boxes of food.
Shoppers will have the choice of either preordering their food for a discounted price or purchasing it at the market, according to John Loud, chair of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, which helped organize the event.
Options include mixed boxes of food — containing some combination of sweet corn, blueberries, cucumbers, Vidalia onions, green beans, bell peppers, yellow squash, cabbage and zucchini — or single-item boxes of cooked chicken, peaches, strawberry, sweet corn, dairy and Vidalia onions.
Mixed boxes will cost $36 if preordered and $40 day-of, Loud said.
Many details are still being worked out, such as the price of the single-item boxes, Loud said.
Turnaround from conception to execution was so quick, Tumlin said, “that we didn’t have time to screw it up, to put it bluntly.”
Buyers will also be encouraged to purchase an additional box of food for donation to a local nonprofit.
The chamber will soon release more information regarding the market, including where to place preorders.
“This is exciting,” Tumlin said. “I’m going to get there bright and early. I’m going wear my overalls. I’m going to get in the spirit.
“I don’t have a straw hat,” he added, “but I’m going to find one.”