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Group lobbying for market

COVINGTON -- An effort is under way to establish a local farmers market.

The initiative is an outcome of the program of work being undertaken by the Green Enterprise Group, a working committee formed under the auspices of the Newton County Leadership Collaborative. The mission of the group is to promote the creation of a green enterprise economy with agriculture at its core. One of the identified priorities was the redevelopment of a farmers market.

A committee has been formed to determine the location and format of the market.

According to Main Street Covington Director Josephine Kelly, establishing a farmers market will fulfill the goal of the Newton County Leadership Collaborative's planning initiatives, including the Economic Development Strategy and the 2050 Comprehensive Land Use Strategy.

Main Street Covington was an active partner in the Square Market, which was open downtown from 2002 to 2005, and residents have been requesting another farmers market, Kelly said.

"When the Square Market was developed, it was difficult to find adequate local farmers for the market. Over the past years there has been an increase in local growers," she said.

Kelly said such a market would be beneficial both to the community and the farmers.

"It enhances the community's understanding of the economic impact of agriculture and the preservation of the quality of life in Newton County. For the farmers, it creates a local market place for their product and for consumers, they have access to fresh local product," she said.

Cory Mosser, manager at Burge Organic Farms in Mansfield, is participating in the initiative. Mosser has participated in other local farmers markets, including one in Carrollton.

"I am admittedly biased because I'm a farmer, but any time you have access to food grown locally, it's very enjoyable," Mosser said. "It creates a true sense of community. In Carrollton, people came every Saturday, not just for the food, but it became a social meeting place. When you go to the grocery store, you kind of ignore people. When you go to the farmers market, you find yourself lingering and talking to neighbors and talking to people you don't really know. It's wonderful from a health standpoint -- it provides access to good food. It improves the local economy."

Mosser said the tough part will be securing commitments from local farmers to get involved and be present each week. The intent is to have a producer-only market, meaning the people who do the growing will do the selling, he said.

"Once we have a good market and a number of vendors there every week, it will be successful," Mosser said.

According to Kelly, the market could be established by late this year, but likely wouldn't be fully functioning until 2011.