A farmers market located in Opelika is bringing in vendors with freshly made products from all over the area for our community to take part in. With over 10 local companies at each farmers market, citizens can buy fresh produce, homemade breads and even artisan jewelry.
The farmers market is a seasonal activity that is powered by O Grows, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the importance of locally grown food and food security. The organization originally began as a school project that allows children from the different schools in Opelika to learn about where their food comes from by participating in activities such as a community garden.
Founder of O Grows and professor at Auburn University Sean Forbes started the organization in fall 2012 and began hosting the farmers market last year. He has a great interest in the localization of products.
“We realized that the better we do at connecting all the parts of the local food system, the better off everyone is,” Forbes said.
Through his organization, activities and market, Forbes is connecting hundreds of people throughout the community and opening doors that make way for knowledge and community engagement.
The long term goal of O Grows is to create a commercial kitchen within their facility that's accessible to people of all ages to help provide their products to others on a larger scale. They already have a full greenhouse, community garden and farm animals on the property for Opelika children to have hands-on experiences with food.
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Many leading local businesses wanted to join in on the fun of O Grows by setting up a booth of their products to sell at the local farmers market. They have been serving products every Tuesday from 3–6 p.m. since May. The market season is officially over, but O Grows will be holding more opportunities for community involvement coming up soon.
The owner of Serenity Farms & Bakery, Mary Freeman, has been a vendor of different Opelika farmers markets for six years. The bakery brings a variety of homemade breads, pies and desserts. She said that having a farmers market located directly in Opelika allows for home based and local businesses to expand their markets and to gain customer appreciation.
Freeman went on to say that one change she would like to see with O Grows farmers market is the involvement of students from Auburn University visiting to gain knowledge on local food production. She would like for students to become a part of the engagement rather than being specific to only everyday Opelika citizens.
Another vendor located at O Grows, owner and operator of Frugal Fruits, said that she believes people are attending O Grows not only for local and homemade products but also for community engagement and being able to meet others from throughout the Opelika and Auburn areas.
“O Grows is all about food,” Forbes said.
He wants to provide Opelika with a community center that allows for activities across all age groups centered directly on food. He said he is excited for what O Grows has in store for its future and hopes for even more educational growth and engagement for the city of Opelika.
He wanted to give credit to the citizens and leadership of the town for helping grow this nonprofit organization from what began as an idea of a school garden to what it is today.