Georgia State Farmers Market Hosts a Memorable 73rd Annual Conference

Thanks and kudos to our hosts Paul Thompson and Jeff Howard for hosting a memorable, educational, informative and fun annual conference May 15-18. The mix of Southern hospitality and friendliness and the cosmopolitan, hustle, bustle of the thriving Atlanta metro area provided a great atmosphere to explore and learn about a variety of Markets ranging from the sprawling Georgia State Farmers Market, which is probably the second largest by volume produce market in the country, to the iconic and historic Municipal Market at Sweet Auburn. Tours also included the “food hall’ and much, much more at the Ponce market, which by the way, is traversed by Atlanta’s hottest new alternative transportation and housing magnet the “beltline”, and a another new “west coast style” market, Krog Street,  in a former warehouse/manufacturing building in the historic Inman Park neighborhood.

The tours were not all City centric. We also toured one the South’s largest agritourisim destinations Jaemor Farms. A family run experiential, immersive, marketing and learning model that draws thousands annually. Conference goers were treated to their world famous, homemade ice cream and lots of good stories.

The conference began with a welcome and great overview of Georgia’s agricultural heritage and future relayed as only Commissioner Gary Black can, followed by a professional development session lead by Dale Carnegie’s Vice President of Training Ercell Charles. His interactive session on “Team Building and Succession Planning”, was cited by many attendees as the best personal development talk they have ever experienced.

Wholesale and retail breakouts featured USDA and PACA updates, a retail session presented by our friend Larry Lund, on trends in retail markets which was jam packed with statistics and current and future consumer shopping habits that we all can use as we plan our market’s future paths and a couple great round tables.

Hotel accommodations, and food were first rate and the staff went above and beyond to make sure all our needs were taken care of. A number of folks took in one or two Braves games and we all experienced the great food and of course beverage venues of the Battery.

Thanks again to our hospitable southern hosts, the Programs and Policy Committee and of course the “glue that holds us together, NAPMM Administrator, our own southern belle, Linda Best. Wherever NAPMM goes next year, which is in discussion at this time, it will be tough to top this one.


NAPMM's 73rd Annual Conference - Atlanta, Georgia - May 15-18, 2019

The 73rd Annual Conference, hosted by the Atlanta State Farmers Market and Georgia Department of Agriculture will be held May 15-18 and registration is now open! Join us as we visit the one of America’s most exciting and diverse Cities and the largest Metro in the south with over 5.5 million residents. Atlanta is a great City to visit and has lot to offer for conference attendees., from the Georgia Aquarium, one of the largest in the US, to the World of Coca Cola, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Centennial Olympic Park, the Atlanta zoo, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center and the Delta Flight museum to name just a few.

The Conference hotel, Embassy Suites Atlanta Galleria, is located in the Battery District, just north of the City proper, loaded with restaurants, clubs and attractions and home to Sun Trust Field and the Atlanta Braves, who will be in town during the conference. The Braves are just one of Atlanta’s major league sports teams. They are joined by the Falcons, Hawks and for NASCAR fans the Atlanta Motor Speedway.  This is a City you could easily spend weeks in and still not see it all, but here is your chance to start your exploration of this southern jewel.

Our hosts from the Atlanta State Farmers Market whose tenants distribute the bounty of Georgia farms throughout the Southeast and beyond, have worked with the Program and Policies Committee to put together a strong program with a mix of classroom and field excursions. With plenty of content and value whether you manage a retail market, a wholesale market or represent another part of the industry. Opportunities to network with industry peers will take place throughout the conference allowing attendees to share experiences, and to discuss issues, challenges, and best practices. You are encouraged to bring marketing materials, copies of security plans, rules and policies, etc. to share with your colleagues.

This is a conference you don't want to miss, so REGISTER TODAY!

Please complete and return printed registration form, along with payment to: NAPMM, PO BOX 1617, Garner, NC 27529.

Download the conference registration form and latest version of the conference schedule

Click here to get the discounted group rate before April 17 -- Embassy Suites Atlanta Galleria Hotel Reservations

Great Sessions Planned

The Programs and Policies Committee is working diligently to finalize the speakers and session content to make sure this conference is not only interesting but relevant to your market and career development. The current draft schedule includes the following topics and speakers.

The Conference kicks off Thursday morning with, an opening plenary featuring Commissioner Gary Black from the Georgia Department of Agriculture. He will give an overview of the Department and their roles and functions along with a description of the State’s agricultural industry including challenges and opportunities for the future.

This will be followed by a professional development session; the topic is still being finalized. After lunch, sessions continue with retail and wholesale breakouts. The wholesale breakouts will include a look at” PACA 101” with Mary Mitchell, Assistant Regional Director, USDA and a continuation and progress update on the action steps identified at the USDA/United Fresh Washington Summit in 2017. This session will be facilitated by USDA and United staff.

Panelists are still being confirmed for the Retail breakout but topics include, “The Continuing Evolution of Retail and Public Markets in America, Food Halls and much, much more” and, “Keeping Your Market Fresh”, ideas and innovations.

We will also be engaged in mobile sessions Friday including a discussion of the Atlanta State Farmers Market major capital project and the “Importance of Agritourism and Farmers Markets in the Atlanta Metro area”.

Tours and Off-Site Visits

After a day of sessions on Thursday, attendees will be treated to a day of tours and off-site presentations on Friday. The day starts with a trip to the Atlanta State Farmers Market. Manager Jeff Howard and former Manager and current Georgia Director of Agricultural Exports, Paul Thompson, will lead us on a tour. At 150 acres, the Atlanta Market, open 24 hours a day, is considered one of the largest of its kind in the world. It features a garden center, wholesale and retail activities, and is a major marketing hub and distribution point for fresh, locally grown produce in the Southeast and throughout the country.

The market is in the midst of a renovation and expansion project which attendees will hear about first hand from the Market Manager and project staff.  Georgia Department of Agriculture staff and others will also discuss the role of the market in the exploding restaurant scene and the complicated foodscape in the Atlanta metro and the rest of the Southeast.

We will enjoy a box lunch on the bus and a presentation on, The Importance of Agritourism and Farmers Markets in the Atlanta area as we travel to Jaemor Farms where the Echols family has been harvesting crops from this land for 107 years. Today the family run farm and agritourism mecca annually hosts over 750,000 visitors and shoppers.

The coach trip back through the beautiful Georgia landscape will feature local snacks, wine and beer for those who care to imbibe and for baseball fans who still have energy, the evening features an optional group outing to a Braves game in the stunning, new SunTrust Park within walking distance of the hotel. Non Baseball lovers can explore the adjacent Battery, loaded with places to eat, shop and enjoy the evening.

Saturday will start with a trip to the Municipal Market in Sweet Auburn. Founded in 1918 as an open air market, The Municipal Market opened the doors to its new building in 1924. Referred to as the Curb Market by locals, it houses thirty local businesses, including produce, butchers, seafood, a full service bakery, a cooking school, pharmacy and ten of the most popular eateries in the city including Miss D’s Pralines and one of Atlanta’s best curry houses the Afordish Restaurant.

After a tour we are off to lunch and a behind the scenes look at the Ponce Market which breathes new life into a historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building in Atlanta. The classic structure, which is the area’s largest adaptive reuse project, has been reinvented as a vibrant community hub housing the Central Food Hall, various shops, flats and offices, all while pointing back to the roots of its inception. The market infuses vigor and excitement into this historically-significant structure, located in one of Atlanta’s most cherished neighborhoods. Attendees will be given vouchers to choose their favorite food option.

The day continues with one more market, the newly developed Krog Street Market. It was designed to be as authentic as the 1920’s warehouse it occupies. With market stalls to sell produce, goods, and prepared food, along with a few southern-grown restaurants and retailers, the market offers Atlantans a gathering place of sorts – a locale for taking in an extraordinary meal or picking up a few inspiring ingredients – a west coast-style market, right in the heart of Inman Park. Attendees will be treated to a beer tasting at Hop City Beer.

If you still have any gas in your tank at the end of this intense day, enjoy dinner in the Battery and then join up with colleagues in the Hospitality Suite to unwind and network.

Thanks to Hunts Point Produce Market for Hosting the Fall Regional Meeting October 7-9, 2019

Many thanks to Nick Rodelli, Danielle Brooks and the entire staff AND tenants of the Hunts Point Terminal Market for hosting a great regional meeting at the world's busiest produce market. The facility and its story is amazing. Manager Nick Rodelli will be retiring soon, and he should take great pride in the improvements and positive changes he has instituted during his tenure. Best wishes for success to the incoming Manager, Phil Grant.

The regional meeting provided a great opportunity to reconnect with many market managers as well as meet some new market managers. We took an amazing tour of Hunts Point Terminal Market and spoke with some of their tenants. It is always very interesting to hear the background of these businesses and see first-hand their operation in action. We also had the opportunity to sit down and listen to many great presentations. Food safety, marketing strategies, security and retrofitting old facilities were just a few of the topics. It is always amazing to see that no matter where your market is from that we all face very similar issues. Having the chance to step away from your market, see another market and hear what they are doing provided some great learning opportunities and allowed all attendees to take new strategies back to their market. We concluded the regional meeting with what NAPMM does best, networking. We had an open topic meeting, where market managers took time to discuss anything and everything about their market. These meetings are invaluable and takeaways from these conversations help strengthen our own markets back at home for generations to come.

We cannot say thank you enough to Hunts Point Terminal Market for hosting the 2019 regional meeting and we look forward to seeing everyone at the annual conference in New Orleans!