MANY Savannahians are unaware that a large dairy farm once operated behind Tennessee Avenue. But for many locals, like myself, the piece of property that used to be the Roberds Dairy Farm has served as a historic and memorable addition to the city.
Where cows once roamed, locals now play. I myself have spent many hours walking my dog around the sprawling acreage. The property itself is a vast piece of land that still holds remnants of its dairy days, including the original dairy processing building and fenced-in fields.
The once abandoned dairy plant now holds the work of sculptor Matt Toole. A portion of the field is occupied by the bounty of Victory Gardens, and you can even find Pegasus Riding Academy hosting classes there.
For others this space has served as a unique place to take pictures, take a walk, or even lay to rest the dog that you used to walk around the marsh riddled property.
The Forsyth Farmers’ Market is another organization that has added to the value of the old Roberds Dairy Farm. Once a year the Forsyth Farmers’ Market hosts a fundraiser event in the fields of the beautiful farm—The Forsyth Farm Picnic.
I first discovered the Forsyth Farm Picnic after being handed a flyer at the Forsyth Farmers’ Market several years ago, I purchased a ticket as soon as I got home and put away my groceries.
And since first attending the event, I make a point to calendar the gathering as soon as the dates come up on the website.
I spoke with the Executive Director of the Forsyth Farmers’ Market, Jeb Bush, to learn more about the once-a-year event I look forward to so much.
The Farm Picnic is a yearly event that was created to support and raise money for the mission of the Forsyth Farmers’ Market. Although the money raised from ticket sales benefits the local market, the small price of the ticket makes it feels as though you are actually gaining all of the benefit. For a small ticket fee guests get to spend an afternoon on a picnic blanket eating local food, sipping local beer, and listening to local music.
As Bush explains it, “The picnic started five years ago as special event for the ‘friends of the market.’ However, we felt like this was not being inclusive to the community. We changed it during the second year to be open to everyone. This will be our fifth year.”
The first thing I do when I arrive is scope out the perfect shaded spot to spread out my blanket, it is usually close to the music. This year the band was The Hypnotics. I then grab an ice cold beer to sip while I wait in line for food, which runs out ratherly quickly.
The line for food was just as long as the sprawling line of food. Picnicgoers are given a wide range of options from well established restaurants around town.
Bush says it best: “The food is always the highlight of this event. There are 11 different restaurants participating this year. We have El Coyote,The Grey, Pacci, Atlantic, Husk, Cha Bella, Green Truck Pub, Kayak Cafe, Sentient Bean, Bull Street Taco, and Savannah Square Pops. We also have the local cupcake brigade bringing great cupcakes.”
Come for the charity, sit for the music, and stay for the food. At this small local event it is easy to get lost in the breezy weather of spring, sitting chatting with your friends, and eating farm fresh food.
There is one criteria for a restaurant to be featured, Bush says. “All of the restaurants that are participating are farm to table.”
It’s difficult not to get one of everything, and truly the only thing that stopped me was the loss of available room on my plate. Options included carnitas from El Coyote, fried rice that was peppered with fresh farm vegetables, gooey macaroni and cheese, vinegar soaked greens, tofu with an orange glaze, mushroom pate on toast, three types of fresh baked bread, a much needed light salad, and decadent cupcakes.
Even though there was plenty of sweets to go around, I could help myself but grab a locally handmade popsicle from Savannah Square Pops. This year’s options included their Milk N’ Honey, Tart Lemonade, Strawberry Balsamic, Black Cherry Peach, Cookies & Cream, Peach Mango, and Strawberry Lemonade. Without thought, I ordered a Milk N’ Honey, the perfect silky sweet balance to my tangy sangria.
Brighter Day provided fruit for red sangria, easy for sipping under the moss laden trees that surround the bustling cow pasture.
Service Brewery, as they have for the past few picnics, serviced patrons with their locally brewed beers. The selection was between one of their fundamental brews, the Ground Pounder pale ale, and a brand new Research and Development peanut butter banana beer that featured cayenne, toasted coriander, and lime.
Service Brewery has been supporting the Farm Picnic for sometime, so selecting the Picnic’s featured beer was a no brainer. Even Miss Zoe Dog and Sophie, their Instagram-famous pups, made it out to the Picnic to hang out with all of the patrons of the festival.
For non-drinkers, this year Perc Cold Brew was available along with tea and lemonade.
If you did not get enough doggo kisses from Miss Zoe, there were plenty of goats hopping around the field. Bootleg Farm, a local goat farm that creates their own artisan cheeses, set up a mini petting zoo with several off their farm friends.
Support from the city along with time has only made the picnic swell in size. This year grew even larger and featured kids crafts from Loop It Up Savannah and hayrides from Pegasus Riding Academy.
Every year I attend the event only seems to grow in scale. If you missed this year’s Picnic, you can mark your calendar for next April and buy tickets online through www.forsythfarmersmarket.com