Summer in Atlanta is a mixed bag: while it’s nearly always miserably hot, this time of year generally brings farmers the most fabulous fresh fruits and veggies. In turn, Atlanta’s average shopper and booming farm-to-table restaurant scene uses them to maximum, delicious effect.

Yet there are times, in Atlanta and across the country, natural disasters strike, impeding or eliminating their ability to farm. While help has existed nationwide, there haven’t been the same sorts of resources locally--until now.

With the Farmer Fund, Atlantans Darla Synnestvedt and Lauren Carey are supporting local farmers affected by natural disasters through emergency relief funds. It’s a little like Farm Aid, but instead of an annual concert, there’s an annual calendar featuring hot chefs and farmers in nothing but aprons. We recently sat down with Darla Synnestvedt to get the deets on this fresh new non-profit.

Local Scout: Tell us about the Farmer Fund. What inspired y’all to start it?

The Farmer Fund mission is simple. It exists to support farmers in the face of natural disaster and help keep farmers farming. Lauren and I (Darla) were sitting at The Wrecking Bar one afternoon in January, having a beer and blowing off steam from our already full plates as Executive Director of Peachtree Road Farmers Market (Lauren) and Director of Catering & Events for Farm Burger (Darla) when we came up with an idea for a fundraiser (the now beloved Farmer Fund 2016 calendar, pictured) and a new non-profit organization that needed forming. And our plates got a little fuller…

What qualifies y’all to do all this fantastic stuff?

Lauren has been building the Peachtree Road Farmers Market for the last 6 years to what it is today: the largest producer-only farmers market in the state, with over 70 vendors and 30 volunteers. Producer-only means that everything at the market has been grown, raised or made by the seller, ensuring fair prices for both the vendors and the consumers. Each week she gets to work closely with the people who are growing and raising our food. She’s gotten to know who they are, what they do and how she, and others, can help.

After running a law firm in Philadelphia for 10 years, I decided to go back to school, get a degree and find a career that fulfilled my desire to feed my heart more than my wallet. I traveled the country for six months looking for people doing what I called “food right.” It was during that journey that I found the Farm Burger folks. I continued to travel until the day I decided I was going to come to Georgia and work for them, growing the group, one Farm Burger at a time. I saw they connected farmer directly to consumer on a scalable model and in a way that no one else was doing, and I wanted to be a part of it. After five years of working with our vegetable farmers, our meat cooperative, our slaughterhouse, the restaurants and our customers, I’ve had the benefit of seeing things from many angles.

You raise funds through an annual fundraiser, as well as calendar sales. Can you tell us about these events/items? Do you have plans for future fundraising endeavors?

The Farmer Fund Launch Party took place on August 10, 2015, and was the first of what we hope is many annual calendar release fundraisers. Not only do we plan to do the beautiful calendar (which features local chefs in nothing but aprons and the farmers that supply their food), but we also have many other events in the works. So many of our local restaurants and breweries want to support our farmers and see The Farmer Fund as a group that’s filling a void in the industry. We can’t release the specifics of any future events, but promise that as soon as we can, you’ll know!

How can folks support your mission?

It sounds so cliché, but it’s true…the best way to become involved with The Farmer Fund is to like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and go visit our website and tell us how you’d like to get involved. We will have a “donate here” button soon and will keep everyone informed of upcoming events and all the fun ways to help. Also, if you haven’t yet bought a 2016 calendar, the good news is that there are still some left after the launch party. Go buy one before they are sold out! They are available at Wrecking Bar Brew Pub, SaltYard, Souper Jenny, The General Muir and Peachtree Road Farmers Market. There were only 800 printed, so this is sure to be a collector’s item and the perfect gift for all the foodies in your life!

Photos by Stacey Bode Photography