Today was a beautiful day, perfect for working out in the garden. I’m way behind on mine, but the really good growing weather seems to hit my little patch of Franklin County about three weeks after most of the rest of you. Maybe next weekend I’ll carve out some time to spend carving out my raised beds from the winter weeds, and start getting my things in the ground. I was one of the founding farms of Athens Locally Grown, back in 2002, but these days I just keep a small garden. Some years it’s larger than others, but it seems like this will be one of those smaller years.
If you’ve been preparing your garden, or just thinking about starting one, be sure to check out all of the live plants offered by our growers through the market. Sure, you could run off to Home Depot and buy some mass-produced seedlings soaked in synthetic fertilizers and sprayed with fumigants, but you can also get hardy seedlings grown by the same people cultivating plants for their own vegetable beds, free of synthetic chemicals.
It’s still a little early to safely put out summer plants like tomatoes, peppers, squash, and eggplants, unless you protect them. The average last frost date for Athens is still a week away (and a month away for me). The weather forecast for the next week looks pretty good, but right now the low for next Saturday is projected to be 43 degrees. That’s well above freezing, but quite cold for tropical tomatoes. If you want to get a jump on things, just use row covers or other protection to keep the cold nights from stunting them.
Why am I encouraging you to grow your own food when I’m in the business of helping growers sell you food they grow? For one, studies have shown (and my own experience confirms) that people who grow their own gardens tend to actually increase their yearly purchases at their local farmers markets. Once they take an interest their food so strong that their begin growing what they can, they find that they can rely even more on their local growers for things that they used to get at the grocery store. And besides, my goal is for every community to become less reliant on food grown elsewhere and shipped in from long distances. And you having your own little patch of garden in your yard is a big step in helping Athens do just that.
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!
Upcoming Local Food Events
April 27th: Be a Farmer For A Day at Blue Moon Farms This is the second event in our 2013 series of 5 Farmer for a Day Tours, to be held Saturday, April 27 from 10-2 in Madison County. Each event will offer you a chance to experience real work on the farm, so come prepared to work! The work session will last for two hours. You may want to bring your own work gloves, weeding or digging tools, pruners or lopping shears, etc. if you have them. Be sure to prepare for the weather appropriately and dress for getting dirty or muddy. You will be in an agricultural setting and can expect sun, rain, bugs, wildlife, dogs, electric fences, pets, and farm animals to be part of the experience. Do not bring your dog with you for a day in the country. Please plan to closely supervise your children during all activities. Water will be provided during the work session and lunch is provided. Farmers may have products available for purchase at the event, so you may want to bring cash/checks and a cooler with you. If you have special dietary needs, plan accordingly to bring those with you. To save resources, bring your own water bottle and dishes with you. Blue Moon Farms is Certified Naturally Grown and includes 60 acres where the family lives plus two 40 acre pine forests. They maintain natural habitats to support native wildlife. We will be doing a variety of chores including weeding and mulching blueberries, weeding and thinning onions, removing and replacing drip tape, and relocating mushroom logs. If time allows we will prepare seed beds. It is a family friendly event. The event will last from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM What you can expect: 9:30 AM check in, meet and greet 10:00-12:00 work session 12:00-12:45 lunch 12:45-2:00 Guided tour of the farm We are reserving 20 spots for the event. Don’t be left out! I will be taking names for a waiting list once all spots are claimed. Please note that you do not need to be a member of Athens Locally Grown to purchase an event ticket. Sign up for this free tour by adding reservations to your order (look in the “Event Reservations” category). For more information, contact Cathy Payne at email@example.com.
Other Area Farmers Markets
The Athens Farmers Market on Saturday has opened for the season on Saturday (see their website for info) as has the Watkinsville market. AFM’s Wednesday downtown market will open later in the spring. The Washington-Wilkes Farmer’s Market in Washington is open every Saturday 9-12 behind the Washington Courthouse, and several ALG vendors also sell there. Most of the other area markets are preparing to open back up as well very soon!
All of these other markets are separate from ALG (even 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!