Marble Street hosts Farm to Table meal in Rockmart
Twinkling lights, live music, and homecooked food brought approximately 100 locals to the annual Farm to Table event, and with South Marble Street lined with tables and hungry guests, the Rockmart Farmers Market raised the money needed for another productive year and spread their message of a healthier community.
Dinner was headlined by freshly-fermented kraut with duck egg and sourdough toasts, stuffed sweet Georgia candy roasters, garlic herb beef, chicken halves with a muscadine thyme sauce, smoked root vegetables, marinated kale salad with edible flowers and lemon honey dressing, and locally made herbal soda and tea.
The meal was prepared with local ingredients by Market Executive Director Shonna Kirkpatrick over several days, the dishes used ingredients offered by farmers such as Spreading Oaks Farm, Sand Creek Farm, That Foreign Chick’s Bakery, Footehill Farmhouse, Bella Vita Mushrooms, Fitzgerald Fruit Farm, Timberland Farm, Five Cedars Farm, and Morning Glory Farm.
“It was all local food prepared by local cooks,” Kirkpatrick said. “We actually thought of hiring chefs at one point, but I think that it really made the food tangible to do it ourselves. It was still nice and fancy, but I think there is a tangibility to the food that they could really relate to.”
Raising money was an important aspect of the dinner -- the Rockmart Farmers Market doesn’t have a higher institution or city maintaining it -- but highlighting how healthy foods can be made delicious was also a goal of the night.
“Our mission is to improve the health of our community,” Kirkpatrick said. “The market is one way to do that, but education around food and preparation is also a huge portion of it. Many of us don’t know how to prepare healthy food in a way that tastes good. So, we think ‘oh, I don’t like okra.’ Well, you probably don’t like slimy okra that’s been prepared incorrectly. When people have grilled okra that’s barely cooked and cooked whole, people think ‘this is amazing.’”
Education and tips for building a healthy relationship with food can also be found in other ventures undertaken by the organization such as the cooking classes and cooking demos held throughout the year.
More information about joining the classes can be found athttp:// www.rockmartfarmersmarket.com/ upcoming-classes.
The Farm to Table event also taught locals that celebratory foods can be healthy and tasty. While birthday parties or weddings might offer cake and chips, the October 6 banquet offered healthy desserts such as freshly baked cookies, apple crumb cake, carrot cake, and locally roasted coffee made possible by Chick N’ Scratch, South Marble Coffee House, and That Foreign Chick’s Bakery.
“When we think of birthdays, it’s all junk food,” Kirkpatrick said. “The kids go to parties and eat all this crazy stuff, and so to be able to make a celebratory meal that has healthy elements is needed. We celebrate a lot.”
The market operates year round, but such a schedule comes with costs.
Aside from grants and sponsorship, the market is responsible for itself. Those interested in getting involved for future events, becoming a sponsor, or donating may consider visiting http://www. rockmartfarmersmarket.com/contactlist/.
The approximately 12 volunteers that helped during the banquet were very much needed, but regardless how many hands she has on deck, locals can count on the market’s director to perform with passion and love for the market and local food.
“I loved cooking the food,” Kirkpatrick said. “I think those three days I spent prepping and cooking the food may have been some of my happiest days. I was truly honored to cook the food for the farmers and for the people.”
The Rockmart Farmers Market is open every Thursday from 2 through 6 p.m. on Rockmart’s Water Street.