The Weblog

This page contains news, event information, and other items added by the market managers, including the weekly availability email. Be sure to check back regularly!



 
Subscribe to an RSS Feed

ALG Open for March 26


Athens Locally Grown

How to contact us:
Our Website: athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenslocallygrown
On Thursdays: Here’s a map.

Market News

We officially entered Spring this week, and had a few gorgeous days to prove it. I hear that there’s cold weather on the way, though, to give us a reminder of what we’re leaving behind. Our average last frost day isn’t for another few weeks yet, so we’re bound to get some nights below freezing before we really warm up for good. It keeps the growers on their toes, as even the tender cool weather crop seedlings don’t like freezes, and they’ve all got the summer plants started (under protection) too. One cold night and a unpatched hole in a hoophouse can put an end to an entire season of tomatoes, and that makes even a seasoned grower a little nervous.

I did get notice of several spring farm tours happening. Darby Farms in Monroe, one of our pastured meat producers, has four tours and field days lined up between now and June. You can find information about all four of them at his website here: https://www.darbyfarmsga.com/farm-tours.html. Also, Broad River Pastures in Elberton, another of our meat producers, has an educational day, with tour, scheduled for the afternoon of April 18th. I don’t see specific information about the tour on their website, but you can read about the farm and contact Cathy for more information here: http://www.broadriverpastures.com/contact-us/.

I expect more farms will be hosting tours and work days as the weather warms up, and I’ll let you know about them all as I hear details. And if you missed hearing about the Old Timey Seed Swap out at Grove Creek Farm on the 4th when I wrote about it a couple weeks ago, you can see that over our market’s blog, here: http://athens.locallygrown.net/weblog/view/25971.

Thank you 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!

Other Area Farmers Markets

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season, I believe. If you know of any winter markets operating, please let me know. And they might all be closed, but we’ll be here all year round!

All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

ALG Open for March 19


Athens Locally Grown

How to contact us:
Our Website: athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenslocallygrown
On Thursdays: Here’s a map.

Market News

As the weather starts warming up and the ground starts drying out, our growers are getting even busier than they’ve been preparing for another (hopefully) great growing season. As part of that planning, they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to keep from losing money this year. Some will expand their operations to grow a little more, some will diversify their crops, some will focus their crops more on just a few big sellers, some will seek out new markets or add CSAs or other strategies, some will scale back, and some will add new revenue streams, such as agri-tourism.

One of our growers just got some recognition for her efforts to bring people out to her farm for events and other activities. Pilar Quintero, of Rancho Allegra, had a nice article written about her and her farm, which you can find online here. Many of you have been agri-tourists yourselves, when you’ve gone to Washington Farms to pick strawberries and ride in the wagons, or to the Athens Corn Maze, or to cut your own Christmas tree. Many of our growers hold tours, special events, and other activities to bring you out to their farm where you can see firsthand how things are grown, what goes into bringing food to your table, and meet those who work so hard so we can eat well. As I hear of these events, I’ll be sure to mention them here, and I encourage all of you to take advantage of some of them to get out and see more of our local food system and to support our growers in yet another way.

Oh, and most of our growers will be employing many of those strategies I listed all at once to try and keep their farms going. It’s a hard business, in many many ways.

Thank you 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!

Other Area Farmers Markets

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season, I believe. If you know of any winter markets operating, please let me know. And they might all be closed, but we’ll be here all year round!

All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

ALG Open for March 12


Athens Locally Grown

How to contact us:
Our Website: athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenslocallygrown
On Thursdays: Here’s a map.

Market News

One of my favorite local yearly events is coming up in a few weeks, the Old-Timey Seed Swap hosted by Grove Creek Farm out in Crawford. They sent me an email about it a few days ago, and I’m just going to repeat it here verbatim:

“18th Annual Old-Timey Seed Swap: Join us for a casual potluck gathering and seed swap April 4th 2015 from 1pm-6pm. With spring around the corner, we’re excited to share our plans for the 18th Annual Old Timey Seed Swap! Originally organized by the UGA Anthropology Department and Professor Dr. Bob Rhoades in 1998, this is a celebration of heirloom seeds, local food sources, traditional agriculture, and good conversation as folks share stories and swap seeds. Why swap seeds? There are hundreds of varieties of heirloom seeds throughout the South with fascinating histories linked to families through generations of seed saving. Since the 1900’s however, thousands of varieties of heirloom vegetables, flowers and fruit have disappeared. Once lost, these varieties can never be recovered —their important genes and a piece of American history are lost forever. Swapping seeds helps preserve the varieties that remain so they can be used for agriculture for years to come- help save them!”

“Bring your heirloom seeds to swap, your questions or your gardening stories and knowledge, picnic blanket or chairs, musical instruments, or even a potluck dish to: Grove Creek Farm 10 Legacy Rd. Crawford, GA 30630. Potluck will be at 2pm this year. You don’t have to have seeds to swap- just come to learn how you can help. For updates please visit us on Facebook or www.grovecreekfarm.org. See you in April! NO DOGS PLEASE. Contact us for more information at grovecreekfarm@gmail.com”

I love this event, and try to go every year. Not only is it an opportunity to get a few seeds that I just can’t get anywhere else, but I get to see Grove Creek’s beautiful farm, share food with like-minded people, have great conversations, and just enjoy spending some time outside. I’m looking forward to doing it all again this year.

Thank you 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!

Other Area Farmers Markets

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season, I believe. If you know of any winter markets operating, please let me know. And they might all be closed, but we’ll be here all year round!

All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

ALG Open for March 5


Athens Locally Grown

How to contact us:
Our Website: athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenslocallygrown
On Thursdays: Here’s a map.

Market News

There are several events coming up to tell you about. The first is the regular ACC Commission meeting, this Tuesday at 7pm. As most of you know, it has been illegal to have backyard chickens (even a single hen) within the city limits. A recent citation on a resident went to court, and it was decided that the current prohibition had a number of legal problems. The Commission seems to be on the verge of agreeing that ACC should allow backyard chickens (and other small-scale backyard food production), and the meeting on Tuesday is when they could take that step. An ordinance is on the agenda to get approved that does not have the language that approves chickens, and so the commission could reject that new ordinance and direct the department that wrote it to include the language and re-send it to the commission. A strong showing from Athenians would help that happen, and so you are encouraged to attend the meeting, to speak briefly (if you feel so inclined), or even to just email the commission to let them know you’re in support of small-scale food production in our town.

Second, TEDxManhattan is holding a one-day conference Saturday called “Changing the Way We Eat” where a diverse group of speakers will be talking about issues in the sustainable food and farming movement. While it would be nice to be there in person, Cine and Daily Groceries have teamed up to stream the entire event at Cine, for free. The events begins at 1pm on Saturday, and you can learn all about it here.

Finally, the Southeastern Sustainable Livestock Conference is coming to The Gwinnett Center (6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth) on 3/28/15 9:00am – 9:00pm. The aim of the conference is to bring together farmers, chefs, and consumers with a mission to promote sustainably produced meat through education, sharing resources, and networking. The day will comprise of seminars and panel discussions, lunch and dinner will be provided with a cash bar & bluegrass band in the evening, and coffee and pastries will be served at registration. The morning keynote speaker is Mary Berry (Executive Director of the Berry Center, KY), & evening keynote speaker is Temple Grandin Prof. of Animal Science at Colorado State University. There is a preview of the agenda on the website (www.southeasternsustainablelivestock.org) and tickets can be purchased at the website also. An additional option tour White Oak Pastures 3/27/15 is available – a coach will be provided from the Gwinnett Center departing at 7:30am. Contact gillian@southeasternsustainablelivestock.org or call 770-634-0175 for more information.

Thank you 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!

Other Area Farmers Markets

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season, I believe. If you know of any winter markets operating, please let me know. And they might all be closed, but we’ll be here all year round!

All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

ALG Open for February 26


Athens Locally Grown

How to contact us:
Our Website: athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenslocallygrown
On Thursdays: Here’s a map.

Market News

This last week was a great one for local food in Athens. Everything that we have build together over the last 20 years was on full display for people around the country in town for the annual Georgia Organics conference. Friday saw tour busses fan out from the Classic Center to visit farms, community gardens, markets, food businesses, research plots, and more. Intensive workshops were held at sites about town teaching others how our treasures were created and how they could go back home and build on our experience. Hugh Acheson, originally just the founding chef of Athens’ 5 & 10 but now a nationally known celebrity chef, gave an impassioned keynote address Friday night about his vision for re-inventing Home Ec in our schools and his new non-profit to get that vision in practice (led up by former ALG volunteer Almeta Tulloss). Saturday saw dozens of instructional sessions taught by nationally known experts (many of the Athenians). And the topper was the renowned Farmers Feast, always one of the best meals I have all year.

All through the weekend I heard from people who were new to Athens marveling at all our community has done to build a local food system, and also from those who have been here many times marveling at how much more we’ve done since the last time they visited. It’s easy to get lost in the routine of daily life, such as ordering carrots from a favorite local farmer and picking them up a few days later, and forgetting that what we have available here, while far from perfect, is still the envy of so many other communities. We should be proud of what we have available here, even while working to make it better (by pushing for a backyard chicken ordinance, and trying to grow local grains, and starting and supporting local food businesses, and introducing your neighbors to the joy of really fresh lettuce).

Two awards were given out during the farmers feast. University of Georgia Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator Julia Gaskin was awarded the 2015 Land Steward Award for her work as a soil scientist and champion of sustainable agriculture in the halls of academia and in fields across Georgia. “Julia has been the college’s strongest supporter of sustainable agriculture,” said Dr. Scott Angle, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Because of her efforts, the college has made great strides in recognizing that agriculture comes in all shapes and sizes. We are a much different college compared to 20 years ago thanks to the efforts of Julia Gaskin.” It’s a common trope across the country that the state ag department, and especially the outreach teams from the ag colleges, are working against organic foods and for the corporations behind much of industrial agriculture. You hear that sometimes in Georgia, too, but thanks to Julia the extension agents across our state are well versed in organic growing practices and fully supporting of new growers staring farms and conventional farmers wanting to convert to organic. She is truly a local hero for sustainable agriculture, and her award is so well deserved.

The Barbara Petit Pollinator Award, given to someone, not necessarily a farmer, who has made a difference in promoting sustainable agriculture and local foods, was given to me for Athens Locally Grown and all of the locallygrown.net markets across the country. It is a huge honor, one that inspires me to work harder on making the system accessible to all. Athens Locally Grown wouldn’t exist without all of the growers big and small who work through all kinds of taxing conditions to make food available to us, all the volunteers that help get food from the farmer to you during our market days, and to all of you who buy the food our growers are offering. Even ordering one dozen eggs makes a difference, and is one dozen less that has to be laid by chickens in cages somewhere and shipped here. Thank you all for helping make my crazy idea come to life in such a spectacularly successful fashion! Over five hundred other communities have begun markets based on ours here, and its a testament to all of you.

Thank you 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!

Other Area Farmers Markets

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season, I believe. If you know of any winter markets operating, please let me know. And they might all be closed, but we’ll be here all year round!

All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

ALG Open for February 19


Athens Locally Grown

How to contact us:
Our Website: athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenslocallygrown
On Thursdays: Here’s a map.

Market News

I’ve been out of town much of this last week, and haven’t really been able to put together a proper newsletter for you this week. Georgia Organics is in town this coming weekend for their annual conference, and I’m really looking forward to that. When I first started going to their conference in 2002, it was a tiny affair, with all of the attendees fitting in the lodge at Unicoi State Park up in Helen, learning from each other in two small classrooms there. Now, well over a thousand people come from all across the country to learn and celebrate the thriving local food systems that have sprung up across Georgia. The movement in Athens has grown during that time from a handful of farmers and gardeners selling to a small but dedicated group of customers to one that’s a model for cities all across North America. Athens Locally Grown has been part of that growth, starting in 2002 as the world’s first online farmers market and now the flagship of a system that is used by around 400 communities world-wide. We have so much to be proud of here in Athens, and I’m happy we get a chance to show it all off this weekend when the GO conference rolls into town.

Looking through the new product listings this week, I notice a lot of great products from Piedmont Provisions, including marmalades, jams, jellies, and other preserves. You may have seen her at some of the other markets around town, and I’m really glad they’re now at ALG too (and even easier for me to keep in my pantry). There is also listings from Carrell Farms for alpaca meat. This lean red meat (often compared to venison, but more tender) is gaining popularity in Australia and South America, but is hard to find in the US. The first of the spring flower bouquets are on the website, too. We’ll be having a cold week, maybe even with snow and ice, but you can warm your house up a bit with a splash of local color in a vase.

Thank you 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!

Other Area Farmers Markets

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season, I believe. If you know of any winter markets operating, please let me know. And they might all be closed, but we’ll be here all year round!

All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

ALG Open for February 12


Athens Locally Grown

How to contact us:
Our Website: athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenslocallygrown
On Thursdays: Here’s a map.

Market News

This week, I’d like to remind you about a feature of the website that’s been there for some time, but that you may have missed. When we started filling orders paperlessly a few years ago, I revamped the “Order History” that you can view by looking at the Your Account page. Back when we had a sheet of paper with your order on it, you could see right then if a grower couldn’t fill an item you had ordered. Now, we try to tell you (we can see that on our little screens), but I do sometimes get asked days or weeks later about missing items (often when someone else picked up the order, and word didn’t get passed back). The system records every time a grower takes something off your order by adding a note to the comment section of the order. Sometimes they’ll also email you in person, but not always. Additionally, the system records when we put an item in your basket or bag, and how you paid. If something turns up missing because the grower didn’t bring it, or if we later discover a bag with your name on it (usually because we accidentally gave you someone else’s), it’ll record that too. We automatically issue refunds for items you paid for but didn’t receive (and you’ll get an automated email each time), and that gets recorded also. You can see all these notes and details about your order by pulling it up in your order history and clicking the link for the PDF Invoice.

If you want to double-check our packing as we hand you your order, you can print out that invoice and bring it with you or load it up on your smart phone. There’s nothing wrong with that, and we welcome your diligence. By 2pm on Thursday, it should accurately reflect what you’re going to be getting that day. I will say that the paperless system has improved our order filling accuracy tremendously. We still have to refund a couple things each week, but well over 99.9% of the items are getting to where they’re supposed to go.

If you have entered your credit card into our system, we do not run those cards until after pickups close on Thursday night, and the total charged to your card reflects any adjustments that had to get made along the way. If there is any question, the PDF has an item by item accounting of everything you received and was charged for, so we can go back over that at any time.

If you’ve ordered something one week and want to order it again, but can’t quite remember what it was called or who sold it, there’s a simpler version of your order history right on the market page. If you never use it, you can hide it, but what makes it really useful is the items you ordered previously will have an “add to cart” link right next to them if they are currently being offered for sale again. If you like to buy the same things each week, it can really speed up your shopping time.

Also, just a reminder that we don’t actually open and begin filling orders until 4:30pm on Thursdays. Sometimes we get a line of people forming at 4pm, when growers are still trying to load and unload. I get a little worried about having all that truck traffic going through a crowd of people for one, and it’s also just human nature to get a little frustrated when you’ve been waiting in line for a while. If the growers have all come early and we have things under control, we will start filling orders early, as soon as we’re able. But keep in mind that we don’t open until 4:30pm, so if you’re in a hurry at 4 and want your items right away, odds are we won’t be able to help you. We’re usually in a mad rush ourselves just trying to get everything organized in the back. The growers fill items in the order that they were bought, not in the order that you arrive, so getting there super early won’t help you get items in short supply.

It’s been a while since we held a “Grower for a Day” event, but we’re in the beginning stages of planning one out at Blackbriar Farm for Saturday, March 21. We’ll start in the morning working on fencing and sorting some stuff out in their growing orchard, break for lunch (on us), and end with a tour of the whole farm. I’ll have more information later on this free event, but if your interest is piqued, mark your calendars!

And finally, Jeff & Tammy Sosby of Peacefield Farm wrote me to say “we will not have tomatoes until the middle of March due to unforeseen circumstances. So Sorry for the inconvenience.” Several others of our growers are growing tomatoes in greenhouses too, so I’m hopeful you’ll still be able to get some from someone in the meantime.

Thank you 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!

Other Area Farmers Markets

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season, I believe. If you know of any winter markets operating, please let me know. And they might all be closed, but we’ll be here all year round!

All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

ALG Open for February 5


Athens Locally Grown

How to contact us:
Our Website: athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenslocallygrown
On Thursdays: Here’s a map.

Market News

There are a number of workshops and conferences coming up that those of you who are gardeners might want to look in to, especially if you think you might want to expand your gardens and begin selling at ALG or other area markets.

First, there’s Sound and Sensible Organic Certification Workshop on February 5, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., hosted by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). This workshop is intended to enlist new farmers and ranchers and help them learn how to become National Organic Program (NOP)-certified. It will provide information and expertise to farmers interested in NOP and answer questions regarding organic farm practices and NOP certification. This day-long event is free, and lunch will be provided. Location: Athens-Clarke County Cooperative Extension, 2152 West Broad Street, Athens, GA 30606 http://www.ugaextension.com/clarke To register: Please visit https://www.ncat.org/events Questions: For questions and more information, please contact Rockiell Woods at 479-575-1385 or email rockw@ncat.org.

Georgia Organics is again bringing their annual conference, attended by people from all over the county, to Athens next month. You can find details of what’s to come at their website, http://conference.georgiaorganics.org/. It’s one of my favorite conferences anywhere, and there’s something there for everyone involved in the local food system, from growers to cooks to eaters.

Just up the interstate in Greeneville, the SC Organic Growing Conference (known as GROW) will be held on Saturday, February 28 through March 2. COOK, featuring cooking classes taught by the chefs from the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas, will be held on Sunday, March 1. And edible Upcountry’s Food Hub (NETWORK) rounds out the event on Monday, March 2. The Culinary Institute will prepare a locally-sourced breakfast and lunch for GROW, an afternoon tea for COOK, and a locally-sourced happy hour for NETWORK. For more information, see their website: http://scorganicliving.com/GROW__2015_Conference.html

Finally, here’s a workshop you can have on your own time. Georgia has recently enacted cottage food laws, which allows low-risk foods to be prepared in home kitchens for sale at farmers markets and other locations. There is an online seminar that goes over the ins and outs of this new set of rules on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zryAP46dJ4E.

And, one repeat from last week: UGA graduate student in the department of Geography, and Athens Locally Grown Member, Aidan Hysjulien is conducting a Master’s Thesis project trying to understand how the values associated with alternative foods systems are incorporated into decisions at the supermarket. This research will consist of an interview during a shopping trip and will require a very minimal time commitment. For more information please contact Aidan Hysjulien at ahys@uga.edu or at (919)699-4288. Aidan will again be manning a table at our pickups this Thursday, if you’d like to talk to him and get a feel for his research project. He is needing to interview quite a few people for his project, and would love your help.

Thank you 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!

Other Area Farmers Markets

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season, I believe. If you know of any winter markets operating, please let me know. And they might all be closed, but we’ll be here all year round!

All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

ALG Open for January 29


Athens Locally Grown

How to contact us:
Our Website: athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenslocallygrown
On Thursdays: Here’s a map.

Market News

This evening, as I was bouncing between looking through the list of items our farmers have listed this week and forecasts for the winter storm about to hit the northeast that may be unlike anything that’s happened there for several hundred years, it occurred to me again what a wise choice it was moving to northeast Georgia. Some of our northern growers may get some snow and ice this week, but not enough winter weather to really affect them.

UGA graduate student in the department of Geography, and Athens Locally Grown Member, Aidan Hysjulien is conducting a Master’s Thesis project trying to understand how the values associated with alternative foods systems are incorporated into decisions at the supermarket. This research will consist of an interview during a shopping trip and will require a very minimal time commitment. For more information please contact Aidan Hysjulien at ahys@uga.edu or at (919)699-4288. Aidan will be manning a table at our pickups this Thursday, if you’d like to talk to him and get a feel for his research project. He is needing to interview quite a few people for his project, and would love your help.

That’s really all the news I have this week — it’s been pretty slow. There are some conferences and other workshops about the business of growing for market coming up in the next month or two, and I’ll try to run through all of them next week.

Thank you 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!

Other Area Farmers Markets

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season, I believe. If you know of any winter markets operating, please let me know. And they might all be closed, but we’ll be here all year round!

All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

ALG Open for January 22


Athens Locally Grown

How to contact us:
Our Website: athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenslocallygrown
On Thursdays: Here’s a map.

Market News

I’ve just arrived home from nearly a week in Mobile, Alabama, where I served on the staff of the annual conference for the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. It’s one of my favorite events, where over 900 farmers from across the south and beyond gather to share stories of failure and success, learn from those, and inspire each other to return home and grow even more real food for their communities. The days there are extremely long, and I’m ready to drop into sleep as I type this, but it is always well worth it.

I haven’t gone over all the listings for the week yet, but there are about 850 items to choose from, including several new items. The winter has been cold and wet so far, and there is plenty more freezing nights yet to come, but our growers are doing a great job of keeping the food coming to our tables.

If you’d like to learn more about the business, there are several educational opportunities coming up for you.

First, there’s Sound and Sensible Organic Certification Workshop on February 5, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., hosted by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). This workshop is intended to enlist new farmers and ranchers and help them learn how to become National Organic Program (NOP)-certified. It will provide information and expertise to farmers interested in NOP and answer questions regarding organic farm practices and NOP certification. This day-long event is free, and lunch will be provided. Location: Athens-Clarke County Cooperative Extension, 2152 West Broad Street, Athens, GA 30606 http://www.ugaextension.com/clarke To register: Please visit https://www.ncat.org/events Questions: For questions and more information, please contact Rockiell Woods at 479-575-1385 or email rockw@ncat.org.

Georgia Organics is again bringing their annual conference, attended by people from all over the county, to Athens next month. You can find details of what’s to come at their website, http://conference.georgiaorganics.org/. It’s one of my favorite conferences anywhere, and there’s something there for everyone involved in the local food system, from growers to cooks to eaters.

Finally, in the past two weeks I’ve talked about the legal organization and considerations behind our market and then the financial operation that keeps everything running. I’ll wrap up my yearly primer on Athens Locally Grown this week with a few words about our growers and other market vendors.

First and foremost, let me preface everything by saying the decision to let a new grower into the market is always made by me alone. I know many farmers markets often get some press regarding one vendor or another feeling left out of the market and complaining that the committee running that market was a little too closed. Well, my efforts to run ALG in a cooperative manner aside, the responsibility here comes back to me. There’s no committee, and no formal application process. I’ve had some potential vendors that I’ve rejected get upset with me and complain that ALG is a “closed” market, and they’re right. It is a closed market, and it’s not open to just anyone to sell through. That doesn’t mean we have arbitrary standards, of course, and actually I think I’ve set the bar pretty high. A good number of our growers also go above and beyond to only bring “the best of the best”, and that pushes the de facto standards even higher. Here’s a summary of what it takes to be able to sell through Athens Locally Grown:

  • All growers must use sustainable practices and never use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. I’ll come back to this later.
  • All growers can only sell what they themselves have grown, made, or otherwise produced
  • All growers must be from the greater Athens area. Right now, this means within about 75 miles
  • All growers must be willing to be part of our ALG community, and not think of us as just a dumping off point.
  • All animals raised for meat or eggs must be pastured or sustainably wild-caught
  • Handicrafts must be made primarily from items produced or gathered on the farm
  • Prepared foods must use organic ingredients if at all possible, and locally grown ingredients if at all possible
  • All proper licenses, when required by law, must be obtained

That about covers everything, I think. When I’ve turned down requests to sell through ALG (and I turn down several monthly), the grower has clearly not met one or more of those standards. There are a few edge cases that I take on a case by case basis. Coffee is one. 1000 Faces was our first coffee vendor, and they offered direct trade coffees (they purchase directly from the coffee growers with no distributor or middle man) and did all the roasting and packaging themselves and to order. That set the standard, and other coffee vendors (such as GranCoffee Roasting Co.) have to match it. Mills Farm was a founding ALG member, but they buy in organic grains for their mill. We now have Sylvan Falls Mill in Rabun Gap as a vendor, and they primarily buy their grains from local (to them) organic growers. From now on, all future millers wanting to sell through ALG will have to meet that standard. And so on.

Let me get back to that first requirement: “sustainable practices”. There’s no set definition of that, and there’s really a sliding scale. For example, I sometimes use a gasoline-powered rototiller, and our no-till growers and the no-hydrocarbon growers would frown upon that. There is a generally accepted definition of what is “conventional” agriculture, and that includes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and confined and grain-fed animals. Those are easy to exclude. At the other end, there is the USDA Organic Certification and Certified Naturally Grown certification. Few small diversified growers can meet the expense of USDA certification, but a good number of our growers are CNG certified. This program uses the USDA rules as a starting point, made a few things more strict, and uses a system of growers certifying other growers to keep things honest. My farm had been CNG certified for nine years (though I dropped my certification the last few years simply because my garden got really, really small), and many others area farms have followed since then. If a new grower does not have a certification, then I talk to them, get information about them, and visit their farm in person when necessary. A good number of our growers were ALG customers long before growing for market themselves, so I’ve gotten to know the people and the decision to let them in was easy.

In short: the growers have satisfied my standards, and I personally have approved them for inclusion in ALG. However, I want you to not just take my word for it. We have farm tours during the warm seasons so you can go on-site yourself and see the farms in action. We have a semi-regular “meet the grower” table at the Thursday pickups so you can talk with the growers yourself face-to-face. We encourage them to take photos for their online photo album, to describe their practices, and to take care with their product listings. We want to facilitate communication between you and them, so when you place an order, they see your name and email address in case they need to clarify a request or offer a substitution, and likewise for most of our growers you can see their contact info when you view their grower profile (while logged into the site) so you can get clarification from them when needed.

I often wrestle with some of those edge cases. Doug’s Wild Alaska Salmon was one such case. The salmon and halibut they sell was caught in Alaska, but Doug and his family live here (well, just over the line in South Carolina). They own their own small boats, and catch the fish themselves. Their practices are certified sustainable by a reputable organization up there, and their products are high quality. They’ve worked out the logistics of getting fish to you every week (by keeping a supply at my house in a freezer they own). I have in the past talked with sugar cane growers from South Georgia, dairies from across the state, fisherman from Savannah, olive growers from Savannah, citrus producers from Florida, and other people making items we just can’t get from growers located right here. Often, the logistics of getting their items from there to here on a regular and timely basis is what breaks down, but I hope that over time we’ll be able to expand the items at our market without compromising our community of growers located right here.

Hopefully that explains how our growers get into ALG, what standards they have to meet, and so on. It’s a very important topic, perhaps the most important one for our market, but much of it goes on behind the scenes. I know you’ve put your trust in me, and I take that very seriously, If you’d like to talk with me in person about this or any other aspects of ALG, I’d love to do so. Just pull me aside when you come by to pick up your order.

Thank you 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!

Other Area Farmers Markets

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season, I believe. If you know of any winter markets operating, please let me know. And they might all be closed, but we’ll be here all year round!

All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!