Seems like every year about this time, the whole town suddenly realizes that summer is almost over and the new school year is almost upon us. I’ve got two girls in school, but even if I didn’t this community is based far more on the academic year than the calendar one. Even though we might have the hottest few days of the summer ahead of us, it’s time to start thinking about cool season school uniforms, waiting outside for the busses, and trying to keep packed lunches hot.
The new school year brings new people to town, and new ALG customers. Welcome, all of you! We’ve already seen quite a few new faces these past few weeks. If you ever have any questions about how our market operates, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email or talk with me during Thursday pickups. The new year also changes existing household routines, so it’s easy to forget it’s Thursday and you’ve got an order waiting for you at Ben’s Bikes. I do make phone calls to everyone who hasn’t arrived by 7:30, and every week catch at least one person who has completely forgotten. I also get a lot of home phone answering machines, though, so now’s a good time to make sure you’ve got a mobile number on your account if you have one. You can change your contact info and several other account details on the Your Account page of the website.
When August draws near, I usually issue a warning that nearly all of the favorite summer veggies are about to be in short supply. Once it gets really hot for long stretches, many plants just shut down flower production, and without flowers, there are no fruit. So, when the hot still days of August roll around there is often a sudden decline in tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers, and pretty much everything but okra. This year, though, we might be ok. It’s not been particularly hot, and there has been just enough rain to keep things from getting too dry. If we stay lucky and the trend holds for a few more weeks, the bounty we have now just might be with us right into fall.
One nice thing about living so close to the mountains is if things get really unbearably hot down here, we can just head an hour up the road to somewhere a little bit cooler. There’s another great excuse to head up to Clayton, GA this last Saturday, when the Clayton Farmers Market and the NEGA Food Bank held their annual garlic festival. We’re blessed here with a huge array of garlic varieties offered by our growers, and if you can catch Kim Janosik of Sundance Farm without a line at his Saturday market booth, he can talk to you about all their nuances for a wonderfully long time. There’s so much variety of flavor, color, texture, heat, and sweetness, so much more than you’d guess by looking at all the white identical heads of garlic at the grocery stores and on cooking shows. The sweetness of garlic can especially catch people by surprise. Last year, I entered the festival’s garlic pie contest with a garlic bourbon pecan pie, the only sweet entry in the contest. It was controversial, and the debate was still going on this weekend. This year, there were two excellent sweet entries, a blueberry garlic chess pie and a garlic and pear tart. I switched gears and made a vegetarian “40 cloves and a faux chicken pot pie” which ended up winning the contest. I owe my success to the many varieties of garlic offered by Sundance Farm and Mill Gap Farm.
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 returned to Saturday mornings at Bishop Park and Wednesday afternoons at Creature Comforts downtown. You can catch the news on their website. The West Broad Farmers Market has returned, and you can catch the details on their website here: www.athenslandtrust.org/west-broad-farmers-market/. The Comer Farmers’ Market is open on Saturday mornings from 9am to noon. Check www.facebook.com/comerfm for more information. Washington, GA also has a lovely little Saturday market, running Saturdays from 9 to noon. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. Folks to the east can check out the Hartwell Farmers Market, which starts bright and early on Saturday morning from 7am to noon, and Tuesday afternoons from noon to 4pm. The city of Monroe has a downtown market on Saturdays, 8:30 to 12:30, and you can learn more here: www.monroedowntown.com/events/monroe-farmers-market. If you know of any other area markets operating, please let me know.
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!