This has been sitting on my write-up queue since last summer, but as the weather warms up here, it's probably good timing in terms of a heads-up.
Yes, Atlanta "Farmer's Markets" (Buford, Dekalb, Cobb, etc) are somewhat unique with their "let's sell various ingredients from different countries them in a super-mega-sized warehouse atmosphere" philosophy.
I've also visited some of the true farmer's markets (Piedmont Park Green Market, Peachtree Road, Marietta Square Farmer's Market, [for which btw PickYourOwn.org remains one of the most useful resources]) and it's always great supporting the local vendors.
But when it comes to getting vegetables and fruits, the Atlanta State Farmer's Market remains my favorite. It is certainly not as friendly of a shopping experience as some of the others; in fact, it seems geared towards wholesale purchasing.
Suppliers set up their produce under large concrete overhangs, similar to the underbellies of highways overpasses. Overall, it is a massive space with 8 or so rows of these concrete roofs and generally people just drive and park at the stands.
I think the fact that retail sale is not the primary focus is what makes the place so fantastic. One, it's not often you can see produce on such scale. Crates like below are not an uncommon sight. (Yes, those are pumpkins like 4-5 feet in diameter)
Secondly, price-wise, you do not get as much mark-up on the produce (in fact, internet chatter is that you should be actively negotiating). And lastly and most importantly, some of the produce quality can be absolutely phenomenal.
Some of the best corn I have had I bought from here. Stuff that seemed insulting to even think about putting butter on, it was just that sweet.
Last summer started a bit of a watermelon varietal obsession with me, an itch that I got a chance to scratch a bit here (during last summer) as well.
Unlike traditional farmer's markets, the place is open everyday. It's actually open 24 hours a day, I am guessing in order to receive shipments from other the sources; however, for realistic public sales, the website suggests from 7am to 3pm, mainly because it's up to the individual merchant to decide how long to stay open for the day.
Lastly, I should mention a few downsides/wishes about the place.
There are a couple of restaurants on-site, Taco Rancho and Oakwood Cafe, both of which I have tried and which I thought were serviceable at best; but not destination worthy.
Secondly, there is no place for butchered meats or seafood (at least none that I know of).
Both of these are a slight disappointment for someone who was hoping for something for a one-stop-shop like Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. But then again, once I get my hands on some of that spectacular corn or watermelon, any potential criticisms about the place will just disappear and be replaced with a big toothy grin.
Atlanta State Farmer's Market
16 Forest Pkwy # 1-110, Forest Park, GA 30297-2086 (Map)
Layout map (PDF)