Anyone setting foot outside this weekend could tell you this without looking at a calendar, but we’re now officially in summer. This heat is really brutal on the tender spring crops, and most of the farms in the immediate Athens area have moved on to concentrate on the summer goodies really coming in heavily now. Some farms, such as Burnell Farm, is experimenting with shade cloth and misting systems to grow broccoli for a little while longer, and our member farms up in the mountains aren’t quite as hot as it is here, and are able to keep the spring things growing for a little longer.
We’re lucky to have the mountains so close by. The farms up there tend to be smaller than those closer in, but their growing season differs just enough that their presence at our market really increases the diversity offered all year ’round. This coming weekend is the perfect time to take a little day trip up there and see firsthand the network of farms that is reviving in the area. The 2014 Georgia Mountains Farm Tour, the third year for this annual tour, is Saturday June 28th and Sunday June 29th from 1-6pm each day. The tour features 16 locations throughout Habersham, Rabun, White, Stephens, Franklin counties and beyond; including community gardens, a honey bee farm, a working grist mill, fruit orchards and optional meal stops with local foods prepared by acclaimed local chefs.
Participants on the tour purchase one weekend pass that allows a carload of attendees to visit as many tour locations as they choose each day of the tour. Among the products featured from the 14 farms on the tour are numerous fruits and vegetables; pasture-raised eggs; grass-fed beef; honey; and water wheel milled organic grains. Other highlights include a farm demonstrating the lost art of horse-powered equipment and several farms using hoop houses for season extension.
In addition to being able to purchase farm products during the tour, many of the farms will have prepared foods to sample, or guests can enjoy a farm-to-table meal at one of the featured meal stops. On Saturday, chef Jeff Morris of the Copper Pot Restaurant in Clarkesville will prepare seasonal snack plates using vegetables harvested from and served in their home garden starting at 11:00 am. On Sunday, Jamie Allred, the acclaimed Executive Chef at the new Fortify Kitchen & Bar in Clayton will feature numerous products from farms on the tour for brunch from 11:00a-3:00p (reservations recommended). Belle’s Diner at Chattooga Belle Farms in Long Creek, SC will also be open for lunch on Sunday from 11:00a – 2:00p. Meals are optional and are purchased separately. Meal stops open two hours before the other tour locations open so that guests can maximize their afternoon tour time. Tour guests should pack extra water, coolers, and be prepared for the weather (sun hats and sunscreen are strongly encouraged!).
Cost of the tour is $35 per carload for weekend passes purchased from any farm on the tour or online. The tour brochure with farm descriptions can be found on the GMFN website: http://georgiamfn.blogspot.com/. Passes can be purchased online starting May 14, 2014 via http://georgiamfn.blogspot.com/, http://www.soque.org and through the Northeast Georgia Locally Grown market, http://northeastgeorgia.locallygrown.net. In person purchases (cash or check only) will be possible starting May 21, 2014 at the SRWA office (downtown Clarkesville), Habersham Chamber of Commerce in Cornelia, Simply Homegrown farmers market in Clayton and Clarkesville Farmers Market on Saturdays. For those on a budget or who would like to show even greater support for local farmers, you can volunteer to help with the tour. For volunteering one day, volunteers receive a complimentary farm tour t-shirt and a pass to attend the other day for free.
Proceeds from weekend pass and t-shirt sales benefit the Georgia Mountains Farmers Network and their future collaborative projects. The tour is sponsored by Georgia Organics, Habersham Chamber of Commerce, Habersham Electric Membership Corporation, North Georgia Turf, Simply Homegrown Farmers Market, and Ingles.
Farm tour locations for the 2014 tour are: White County – LoganBerry Heritage Farm, Nacoochee Valley Farm; Habersham County – Melon Head Farm, Indian Ridge Farm, MTN Honey, Liberty Farm**, Copper Pot Gardens; Rabun County – Mill Gap Farm**, Sylvan Falls Mill, Old School Garden, Fortify Kitchen & Bar**; Stephens/Franklin Counties – Shade Creek Farm**, Taylor Creek Farm, Jan & Zen’s Garden, and in neighboring states – Chattooga Belle Farm (Longcreek, SC) and Leah Lakes Farm (Otto, NC). Farms with a ** are only participating on one day. See the tour’s website for the full schedule.
For additional information visit http://georgiamfn.blogspot.com/, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 706-754-9382.
Thanks so much for your support of Athens Locally Grown, all of our growers, local food, and our rights to eat it. You all are part of what makes Athens such a great area in which to live. We’ll see you on Thursday at Ben’s Bikes at the corner of Pope and Broad Streets from 4:30 to 8pm!