Sure, itâ€™s easy to complain about the downsides of a college town: the depressed wages, the lack of parking, the damn kids who wonâ€™t get off your lawn. But the upcoming Athens Food Cart Fest (downtown on College Avenue between Washington and Hancock, Mar. 31, from noon to 6 p.m.) is a tangible example of one of the benefits. Organized by students from UGAâ€™s College of Environment and Design, the festival grew out of CounterSPACE, a town-and-gown collaboration focusing on â€œcivic agricultureâ€ in Athens; that is, finding â€œways to produce and market healthy foods in sustainable ways,â€ according to the CEDâ€™s website.
Food carts can clearly be part of civic agriculture because of their flexibility and small footprint, and Athensâ€™ own Farm Cart has been an excellent example from its beginning, offering up a limited range of menu items that are healthy, reliably delicious, well-priced and ethically produced. Farm Cart will be at the fest, as will La Fonda Dawgs, King of Pops, Streets CafÃ© and the empanada guy from downtown. Athens has as yet a limited number of food carts, so some Atlanta folks will be serving, too: S&J Woodfired Pizza, Honeysuckle Gelato, Nana G’s Chicken and Waffles, Yolis Street Food, The Pickle (Tex-Mex, Southern and New Orleans), Nacho Mama’s Street Tacqueria and Pressed for Time, many of which have been involved in the Atlanta Street Food Coalition, which pushes for food carts in our bigger neighbor.
The location for the event, right by City Hall, is a smart one, and the festival may show that food carts could make a real go of it downtown. Bring cash and an appetite, and you may be able to get two meals and a few snacks in.
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