February 22, 2023 | News

The City of Fort Oglethorpe unleashes Stable 41 Farmers Market

Writer: City of Fort Oglethorpe

Published February 22, 2023
Walker County Messenger/The Catoosa County News

In late 2020, the City of Fort Oglethorpe received a grant through the Lyndhurst Foundation to work with the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to develop a vision for the historic area centered around Barnhardt Circle and Lafayette Road. The Fort Oglethorpe Renaissance Strategic Vision and Plan (RSVP) emerged from the public input of approximately 1,000 residents.

The Fort Oglethorpe RSVP steering committee was formed in early 2021 and, after several months of meetings with focus groups of citizens and community leaders, it became evident that a farmers market was desired by the community. After purchasing property in the historic district, the City converted an old, three-sided truck terminal into an open-air pavilion. This facility was once one of the many stables housing the 6th Cavalry’s horses and was called Stable 41. Given this history, it only made sense to carry on the name for the new space. Not only is this space perfect for a farmers market, but it will also serve as a multi-function event space in the future.

Farmers markets have been a staple of communities for centuries, providing a place for local farmers to sell their fresh produce directly to consumers. In recent years, farmers’ markets have seen a resurgence in popularity, as more and more people seek out locally-sourced, organic, and sustainable food options. This trend has not only brought new life to these markets, but has also helped to revive local agriculture and strengthen the connection between communities and their food sources.

In April 2022, Taylor Hutwagner was hired as the City’s market manager. The Stable 41 Farmers Market’s inaugural season, from May to October, was a huge success. Each week, shoppers were able to buy products from many and varied vendors. With nearly 100 registered vendors, each week offered opportunities for people to buy from their favorite vendors while being exposed to new sellers with exciting handmade products and homegrown produce. Vendors come from within 75 miles of the City of Fort Oglethorpe and must produce their own products. Shoppers can be sure that their purchases are supporting local, small businesses that produce their own products. The market also became a place for local entertainment. Each week, local musicians performed for shoppers and vendors alike.

The Stable 41 Farmers Market was also accepted into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP allows the shoppers to use their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards on-site, giving more people greater access to fresh, local produce. For the 2023 season, the market was accepted into the Georgia Fresh for Less program through Wholesome Wave Georgia. This program allows SNAP shoppers to get a dollar-for-dollar match when they swipe their EBT cards, thus doubling their dollars when they buy fruits and vegetables.

In late 2022, the City received the exciting news that its market had been awarded a Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This grant will assist in funding the Stable 41 Farmers Market for the next three years. The award of this grant was a fantastic end to the season and was made possible by the hard work of Taylor and City staff.

This year, the Stable 41 Farmers Market will open its 2023 season on April 30th from 1-4 p.m. For the second year in a row, the market will be open with Sundays through October 1st. Because the demand was so great, the market will expand to include a Thursday fresh market, which will be held from June 1st through August 31st from 3-6 p.m. The Thursday Fresh Market will be limited fresh produce, meat, dairy, eggs, grains, canned goods, and honey vendors. This market will give shoppers an opportunity to buy local groceries throughout the summer months multiple times a week.

Hutwagner, who has since moved into the role of Economic Development and Events Director for the City of Fort Oglethorpe, says, “We are looking forward to another great market season for Stable 41. We are already getting vendor applications in and programming events. We invite everyone to visit Stable 41 this year; it will be a season you don’t want to miss!”

Indeed, she’s right. This year will see an uptick in events outside of the beloved market. Some examples of exciting events to come are concerts, Food Truck Fridays, movie nights, festivals, and more!