East Lake Farmers Market shutting down

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 23, 2014
Source: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ELF-Market/101442739896056

Source: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ELF-Market/101442739896056

The East Lake Farmers Market is going away after five years in business.

The Farmers Market┬ámade the announcement today. The Market, which was held every Saturday from April through November at the corner of Second Avenue and Hosea Williams Drive, closed for the season on Aug. 1 “due to changes in personnel.”

The Market opened in 2009.

“At this point, our plan is to keep our books open for a few months so that any vendor checks that are outstanding may clear,” the announcement from ELFM Board President Doug Williams says. “We will close the books and fold the organization by the holidays. Any remaining funds, assets and resources will be given over to the East Lake Community Garden.”

Williams’ letter explained there is a large amount of turnover on the board. He said there wasn’t enough behind-the-scenes support to keep the market going.

“But as you may have noticed, the market suffered in seasons five and six as we did not have sufficient volunteer hours going into the market, and accordingly; attendance and vendor participation dropped,” Williams said.

Williams also cited increased competition from other markets in the area.

“When we began, we were one of a few markets in Atlanta, but we have seen the farmers market scene expand to many choices,” he wrote. “In this competitive environment, we have not been able to thrive. Looking forward, we believe that given our current resources the best choice is to let it go and leave with hearts full of gratitude.”

Here is his full letter, which was also posted to the ELFM Facebook page.

Dear friends and supporters:

As of August 1, 2014 the ELF Market closed for the season due to changes in personnel. The early closure was a tough decision. An even tougher one has been to accept that we do not have the resources to keep this enterprise going. We apologize for any inconveniences this closure has caused, and we thank you for your community support.

Since April of 2009 we have seen the market act as a catalyst for change; spurring the development of the community garden, and bringing about the transformation of an empty concrete lot into a farm and symbol of growth and development of our community. Where once there was blight there is hope, where once there was chagrin, there is pride. Every week neighbors came together as we built community with food. All of this happened because of an outpouring of support and goodwill from a community that understands that good things happen when people come together in common cause.

As this has happened, the board of the ELF Market has also seen change, in the order of 10 babies in 6 years! While some degree of turnover is to be expected, I have not been able to replace board members at a rate to meet the needs of our organization. In order for our market to run well, there needs to be at least 40 hours a week of behind the scenes work to support the market manager. Marketing, fundraising, social media, accounting and other needs have to be met to be our best. For the first few market seasons Amy and I filled this gap, along with many more hours by Patti Willard and the rest of the board. For seasons 3 and 4 Jennifer Mummert carried the load with board support. But as you may have noticed, the market suffered in seasons 5 and 6 as we did not have sufficient volunteer hours going into the market, and accordingly; attendance and vendor participation dropped.

At this point, the market does not have the volunteer or staffing resources needed to properly support it. When we began, we were one of a few markets in Atlanta, but we have seen the farmers market scene expand to many choices. In this competitive environment, we have not been able to thrive. Looking forward, we believe that given our current resources the best choice is to let it go and leave with hearts full of gratitude. At this point, our plan is to keep our books open for a few months so that any vendor checks that are outstanding may clear. We will close the books and fold the organization by the holidays. Any remaining funds, assets and resources will be given over to the East Lake Community Garden

Thank you to all who have helped make this happen around our community; Sponsors patrons and friends. Particularly I want to thank our market managers, who did the weekly work to pull this off: Micah Lipscomb, Lou Linzie, Corinne Coe and Adamaah Grayson.

Finally, I would like to personally take a moment to thank the board members of the ELF Market who have helped make this happen over the years: Amy Williams, Patti Willard, Bryan Stillwagon, Todd Lakes, Heather Devlin, Angela Frew, Khari Diop, Cami Reynolds, Larry Kosten, Stephanie Vial, John Baiyewu, Kathleen Turaski, Brittany Molinaro, Erik Day, Amanda Geraghty, Lennie Mowris and Kyle Caldwell. There is very little I have accomplished by myself, and I will always be grateful for the support you have given this effort. This has been a labor of love, and I will always have love in my heart for those who helped make this happen.
We hope you will continue to visit and support our partners at the East Lake Learning Garden and Urban Farm as they continue to provide fresh, locally grown produce to our community and grow positive change at 2nd & Hosea. Thank you for your support of the ELF Market. You have been part of the change we wanted to see in our community, and we all are grateful for that.

Be well,

Doug Williams
Board President
East Lake Farmers Market

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

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