The Peachtree Road Farmers Market delays their reusable bag design contest


Dawn Wadsworth and Dhruv Mehra attend the first Peachtree Road Farmers Market of the 2014 season in early April. Mehra won first prize and a $1000 scholarship with his design that included images of the Atlanta skyline, the Capitol building, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and local produce.

Colored pencils scatter the floor and tables, while crumpled pieces of paper overflow in the trash can. Another failed drawing lands on the floor as a new sheet of paper is grabbed, and the drawing is started again.

Hours later, with dozens of additional papers on the floor, marker-covered hands set down a colored pencil, a marker and a finished drawing. Fresh produce and the Atlanta skyline blend together in a collection of color.

These local food-themed drawings are created for the Peachtree Road Farmers Market reusable bag design contest. The 11-year-old contest is at risk of being discontinued following the exit of its leading sponsor, Country Financial, resulting in a delay for the contest this year.

“Peachtree Farmers Market is one of the larger farmers markets Atlanta has to offer, and it features a lot of local farmers and artists,” said Mei Nathan, 2014 contest winner, a former Southerner managing editor and 2017 graduate. “I think the bag competition is just another way the market showcases the local community and students.”

In 2007, Chef Linton Hopkins, his wife Gina and The Cathedral of St. Philip joined forces to create the farmers market. Since then, it has become the biggest producer-only farmers’ market in Georgia. All products are sold by those who made them.  

Along with farm-fresh vegetables, handmade jewelry and family fun in past years, the market also offered a reusable bag design contest. Kids all over the state can submit a drawing in hopes of winning first place. The winner was entitled to a $1,000 scholarship and the opportunity to have his or her design printed on thousands of bags to be given away at the market.

“In early April, I got invited to the first Peachtree Road Farmers Market of the season where they would unveil the winner,” said senior and 2015 contest winner Dhruv Mehra. “I thought there was no chance I would win, but then they ceremoniously pulled away a cloth to reveal my design blown up on a piece of foam core.”

During his freshman year, Mehra enrolled in Dawn Wadsworth’s Intro to Art class at Grady, where she made the reusable bag design contest an assignment. She explained that entries needed to coincide with the theme of the year, which was “Live, Love, Be Green.” Wadsworth was excited to try something new, and she had high hopes for her students.

“[The directors of PRFM] sent a letter to the school to tell us about the contest,” Wadsworth said. “We did it the third year they offered it, and we have won first place three out of the four years we have participated.”

Aside from Mehra and Nathan,   2017 Ella Ekman won last school year. Nathan won her freshman year.

“I think the bag competition is just another way the market showcases the local community and students,” Nathan said.

This year, the reusable bag design contest is facing an unprecedented obstacle: Country Financial, is discontinuing its sponsorship. Country Financial originally started the bag contest in Chicago and reached out to the Peachtree Farmers Market.

“This year, Country Financial pursued a partnership with a different farmers market in Portland, Oregon,” Sara Craig-Goodell, executive director of Peachtree Road Farmers Market, said. “Country Financial no longer felt that sponsoring the bag design contest at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market was a good return on investment.”

The contest sparked the interest of many artists around Atlanta, and it encouraged many to participate in the bag design contest. Despite the loss of a sponsor, however, the market is still working to continue the contest, and Craig-Goodell remains hopeful that the contest will continue this year with a delayed start date.

“We are working fast and furious to secure another sponsor for this year,” Craig-Goodell said.