Premier operation in Atlanta features a plethora of organic and local options.
Atlanta has become one of the major produce hubs in the country, with major operations bringing fruits and vegetables into the State Farmers’ Market from throughout Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and beyond, and shipping it back out throughout the Southeast and up the Eastern Seaboard.
Within the metropolitan area, two of the four largest retailers in the country — Kroger and Publix — each command roughly 25% of the market. But less than a mile down the road from one of the Kroger superstores, a neighborhood market is reviving — for a modern demographic — the tradition of the produce store as the link between consumers and the nearby farmers who feed them.
“Produce is a big part of our business model; local produce even more so,” says Michelle Olsen, who owns Floral Park Market along with her husband James. “We specialize in organics, prepared meals, the freshest produce and beautiful flowers. We have amazing local vendor partners that allow us to offer the very best in locally sourced organic produce.”
Local organic produce is the major attraction bringing consumers to this high-end market housed in a modest structure.
“Floral Park Market takes great pride in offering produce from local farmers,” according to the website. “In addition to supporting local farmers, we are committed to offering our valued customers organic and naturally grown produce.”
Nearly all of the high-end produce sold at this modest market building comes from Georgia, and most of it is grown and harvested by family farmers just 60 miles or so from the store and distributed by a unique aggregator of family farm products.
“We have a conglomerate we work with,” notes Olsen. “Collective Harvest gets produce from smaller organic farmers around Athens, GA. The individual farms don’t have the quantity or experience to give us the volume we need. They usually have CSA’s [Community Support Agriculture] they need to serve, and we were at the bottom of the list.”
Floral Park maintains relations with a few individual farmers. The market also sources some produce from more mainstream wholesalers. “I work with some of the brokers at the State Farmers Market to get things like tomatoes or peaches from South Carolina,” says Olsen.
But Collective Harvest is looking to be the solution that lets Floral Park offer a reliable supply of fresh fruits and vegetables grown by relatively small family farmers.
“This is our first season with them, and it’s been great,” says Olsen.
This group began four years ago when a few family farmers outside Athens decided that pooling their harvests would improve the business for all of them.
“We began when three of our member farms — Diamond Hill Farm, Front Field Farm and Full Moon Farm — decided that instead of competing, we would collaborate to run our wholesale and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs,” according to the Collective Harvest website. “By pooling together our growing power, we have much greater produce availability. And by combining our resources, we have been able to hire a few full-time employees to run Collective Harvest. That means that we farmers get more time to focus on growing and harvesting crops.”
Word of the reliable supply of very fresh organic produce has spread throughout the Berkeley Park and Loring Heights neighborhoods, and has also earned Floral Park a loyal group of upscale or health-conscious consumers.
“We have very wealthy people come in or send their nannies,” says Olsen. “We also have a hipster crowd of young people focused on healthy eating, and young families, too, that want to eat healthy.”
Michelle’s husband, Jim, started Floral Park as a wholesale flower supplier after he moved to Atlanta from Long Island, NY, nearly 20 years ago. The market still features dazzling floral displays alongside the wide variety of fruits and vegetables. For Michelle, Floral Park Market represents a connection to farmers that goes back five generations, as she first learned the love of the land on her family’s dairy farm in rural Connecticut from her father, a fourth-generation farmer.
- Floral Park Market
- 775 Trabert Ave NW
- Atlanta, GA 30318
- Hours: Mon – Fri 9 am to 7 pm
- Sat 10 am to 4 pm; Sun 11am to 4 pm