Atlanta farmers markets undergoing, poised for updates

The old Atlanta State Farmers Market sits along the new BeltLine Westside Trail. Photo courtesy of John Becker.

The old Atlanta State Farmers Market sits along the new BeltLine Westside Trail. Photo courtesy of John Becker.

Q: On a tour of the BeltLine, the remnants of a state farmers market was seen, indicating there was an original market in southwest Atlanta before the current state farmers market. Do you know anything about the history of the old farmers market? Also, do you know anything about the change of the current farmers market to an indoor, all-weather, enclosed facility? — Wheeler Bryan, Atlanta

A: The old Atlanta State Farmers Market opened its doors in 1939, said Paul Thompson, the manager of the current Atlanta Farmers Market in Forest Park.

Originally located on Murphy Avenue in southwest Atlanta, the farmers market served as a center for the community. According to the Atlanta Preservation Center, the location was the hub of industry and railroad at the time, and the market provided fresh food to residents of Atlanta and surrounding areas.

In 1957, the market had outgrown its 16-acre plot, and the state sold the Murphy Avenue location, Thompson said. The new market opened in 1959 in Forest Park, where it still operates in a 155-acre space. The grounds include a restaurant, gift shop, retail shop and a garden center.

The market, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, provides food from around the state and globe. Forty wholesale tenants are there daily, and as many as 65 tenants may be in the sheds on any given day, depending on the season.

The market participates in business-to-business transactions and serves the average shopper on a daily basis, but in the fall and winter, seasonal items like pumpkins and Christmas trees bring in more vendors and new visitors, Thompson said. The market puts on exhibits such as bird and food shows.

The market is under renovation, with re-roofing as part of the final phase that began in November. Several sheds will be removed to create space for a new, 75,000-square-foot refrigerated building, Thompson said.

These changes are being funded by the state through bonds, which the tenants will pay back once they move into their space, he said.

“We are in the biggest renovation since the inception in 1959,” said Thompson.

New uses and development for the old Atlanta State Farmers Market are being planned by the Atlanta BeltLine Inc., its current owner.

Atlanta BeltLine Inc. is in the final stage of procurement to identify a site management partner for the 16-acre property, known as Murphy Crossing, said Jenny Odom, a spokeswoman for Atlanta BeltLine Inc.

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