originally published 10/3/11 - On Oct. 3, 2011, the Waleska City Council presented a 'Key to the City' to Reinhardt University Horticulturalist Zachary M. White for spearheading the popular Waleska Farmers Market.
“Zach was chosen for this honor because he has had total success in the Waleska Farmers Market due to his leadership and commitment,” Waleska Mayor Doris Jones said. “It was a pleasure to award Zach with this honor. He does an excellent job and is truly an ambassador, not only for Reinhardt University, but also for the city of Waleska. I believe the Waleska Farmers Market has helped the Waleska community by bringing visitors to our area. I have met people from the surrounding communities, as well as people from Marietta, Roswell.”
Reinhardt President Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood echoed Jones’ comments. “Zach White is a dedicated, joyous, hardworking young man whose energy has spilled out from Reinhardt University into our Waleska home,” he said. “The Farmers Market he has organized for the City of Waleska has become a center of activity. All of us at the University and the city appreciate his commitment and enthusiasm.”
Reinhardt Vice President for Advancement and External Affairs JoEllen B. Wilson ’61 complemented White for successfully bringing the city and the University together. “Positive town/gown relationships are so important for a university. For generations, the City of Waleska has worked closely with Reinhardt to provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere where young people can feel at home, and this market is another example of how we help one another and we both benefit.”
White said he was thrilled and honored to receive the key. “As a child, I thought that receiving the key to a city was the highest recognition someone could ever receive in their community. There are so many people in Waleska who deserve this award… so I am really honored. I so much appreciate Mayor Jones and the Waleska City Council for presenting me with this award. I have a great appreciation for the community of Waleska -- being a graduate of Reinhardt, I feel like I grew up in Waleska. After every Farmers Market, I leave thinking Waleska is one of the friendliest small towns in America.”
White got the idea to start a farmers market several years ago while selling goods in the Saturday morning markets in Jasper and Canton. “I was talking one day with Reinhardt faculty member Elizabeth Smith about having a market in Waleska. We wondered, what if we started one on Thursday evenings before the weekend? We met with Mayor Jones, and she was very much in support of the idea. She has been our number 1 fan at every market. There are so many people who were a part of getting the market started – from the many wonderful vendors to the Reinhardt faculty and staff and many members of the Waleska Community.”
The grand opening of the Waleska Farmers Market was held Thursday, May 6, 2010. In its first year, the market was held once a month, but this year, its second year, it was held twice a month, on the first and third Thursdays, from early May to October 6.
White said the locally home grown and homemade products -- produce, baked goods, plants, soaps, candles, frozen fruit sorbet, honey, jewelry, crafts, art, sauces and spices -- made the Waleska Farmers Market popular. “I think the market is a great example of stewardship because many of the items travel less than a mile to get to the market, and many of the market’s customers travel a shorter distance than to a store in a city several miles away,” he said. “We are reducing our carbon footprint and promoting local environmental stewardship.”
He also said the market customers enjoy talking with the person who made or grew the products. “At a big box store you cannot talk to the person who made the soaps or grew the watermelons. At a Waleska Farmers market, you can know where the product came from and get a friendly smile,” he said.
White has worked hard to publicize the market. “Our logo was created by Waleska native and Reinhardt Graphic Designer Amanda Brown, and it is one of the best farmers market logos I have ever seen. It has been a wonderful tool in promoting the market. Lauren Thomas, Reinhardt’s media relations coordinator, has done some wonderful press releases and web pages for the market. The most popular way we get the word out is on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Waleska-Farmers-Market-at-Reinhardt-University/103720046333906. Our Facebook page has over 523 fans. I try to list all the products our vendors are bringing to each market, and I try to take pictures of what is going on at the Market. We also have been really thankful for the city of Waleska which put the dates on the city water bills, and Mayor Jones has promoted it in her newsletter which goes to all Waleska citizens.”
Though only in its second year, the Waleska Farmers Market has already won several prestigious awards. “Last year the Waleska Farmers Market was voted the fifth most popular farmers market in Georgia in the America's Favorite Farmers Market Contest,” White said. “This year the market was voted the 11th most popular farmers market in the country in the boutique category with over 150 votes. It’s very impressive for a small town market like ours to be ranked nationally. “
This winter, White plans to meet with vendors and the Farmers Market committee to decide on 2012 dates and plans. “Stay tuned on Facebook – Waleska Farmers Market - and I will reveal the dates this winter. I am hoping we will begin the first Thursday in May.”
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