By Katie Fallon

Starting next month, one local church will experience more than the usual weekend traffic jam in its parking lot.

The Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Rd, will host a slew of local farmers and vendors as the new Cathedral Market debuts on May 12. Through the summer, the market will be held in the cathedral’s parking lot every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Linton Hopkins, owner of Restaurant Eugene in Buckhead, came up with the idea for the market while speaking at a meeting of the Brookwood Hills Garden Club.

“I grew up in this area and always thought it would be neat to have a farmer’s market.” Hopkins said. “I just love the central location.”

As luck would have it, a member of St. Philip’s was in attendance at the meeting and passed the word on to Rev. Sam Candler, dean of the cathedral, and vicar Rev. George Maxwell. Hopkins said he realized with his connections to local vendors and the generosity of St. Philip’s, the market could become a reality.

“I know all the farmers,” Hopkins said. “I said ‘Why can’t we do it?”

Indeed, Hopkins’ enthusiasm has transferred to the cathedral. Maxwell said the church’s motivation for participating in the market is to create a sense of community where personal relationships will be built between grower and customer.

“The primary draw for us is serving the city,” Maxwell said. “We think of ourselves as the cathedral for the city.”

As obesity rates remain high across the country, Maxwell said another benefit of the market will be to teach people about eating more fresh and organic foods.

“A farmer’s market creates community and focuses attention on the ethics of eating,” Maxwell said.

The vicar said he has received a huge groundswell of support from his parishioners who are anxious to be able to teach their families about where food comes from and why certain foods are available during certain seasons.

“We’re pretty excited,” Maxwell said.

Hopkins, who is scheduled to appear on the April 8 episode of the Food Network’s Iron Chef America at 9 p.m., said the purpose of the market is really threefold.

“It’s a better place for people to get their dinner,” Hopkins said. “It’s a sense of community. It’s celebrating local products.”

Maxwell said he hopes the market’s success will bring farming back into the forefront as a profitable vocation.

The market currently has room for approximately 30 vendors. Those who have signed already will be selling everything from fresh pastas and produce to dairy products, meats, olives and honey.

“It’s a diverse mix,” Hopkins said of the artisan products.

Those wishing to indulge in the market’s offerings will be charged a nominal fee that will be set by a market manager. Maxwell said the fee will not be collected by the church and that the intent is to keep as much money in the farmers’ pockets as possible.

In the long term, Hopkins said organizers are hoping to form a nonprofit organization to run the market as well as to become an inspiration for other neighborhoods to create a similar atmosphere for local growers and vendors. Activities, he said, will likely be added to increase the draw of the market.

“We may incorporate chef demos in the future, but it’s all about the farmers right now,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll grow.”

Vendors wishing to participate in the Buckhead Farmer’s Market can call Linton Hopkins at 404-307-5104.