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!



 
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ALG Market Open for March 16


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

If you got a Srping Break, I hope you had a good one! Me, I’ve got a regular 9-5, and stayed in town and enjoyed the quiet. That was nice.

The big news this week is the immenent cold snap about to hit. If you hadn’t heard, we’re goping to get at least three nights this week well below freezing. It’ll be in the low-to-mid 20s Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and could get down into the teens in outlying areas. It’s not unusualy to get cold nights this time of year — our average last frost day isn’t until mid-April — but given how unseasonably warm it has been, this will hit us hard. Not only have the fruit trees bloomed, they’ve already begun setting fruit. Spring veggies, including leafy greens, like to grow slow with thick leaves in the cool air, and that thinckness helps them survive cold nights. But in the heat, they grow fast sand thin, and have much less natural defences against freezes.

Our growers are scambling, trying to protect what they’ve got growing. They’ve estimated what they’ll have for us on Thursday, but please be understanding if their estimates aren’t as accurate as usual. A few degrees one way or another can mean the difference between getting through ok and total losses.

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 season. They’ll return in April, and you can catch the news on their website. The Comer Farmers’ Market is open on Saturday mornings from 10am to noon. Check www.facebook.com/comerfm for more information. Washington, GA also has a lovely little Saturday market, running on winter hours from 1-4. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. 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!

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 Market Open for March 9


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 our town takes a collective pause, what with pretty much all of the schools in town at all levels taking spring break. I know many of you are leaving town for the week, and I hope you have a grand time! Even though break is early this year, the warm weather has our growers working overtime, and they’ve got plenty of items listed for you folks staying behind.

It also looks like it’ll be a gorgeous week, weather-wise, with actual Spring-like (not Summer) temperatures and scattered bits of rain. I smanaged to spend just a little bit of time in the garden this weekend, and I’m hoping to do some more this week, pulling out the winter weeds and putting seeds and seedlings down in their place. I’ve had gardens large and small pretty much every year of my adult life, and this time of year I want to spend every moment out in them. I’ve got a new garden space this year, tended in seasons past by the previous residents of this house, and I’m looking to make my mark on them too. It feels just as good with a few raised beds as when I had a full acre under cultivation.

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 season. They’ll return in April, and you can catch the news on their website. The Comer Farmers’ Market is open on Saturday mornings from 10am to noon. Check www.facebook.com/comerfm for more information. Washington, GA also has a lovely little Saturday market, running on winter hours from 1-4. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. 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!

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 Market Open for March 2


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

It’s been another slow news week here, but isn’t this weather crazy? While we’re out enjoying the sunshine in t-shirts and shorts, the growers are really haveing to make things up as they go. It actually dipped below freezing last night, just barely, but it was so hot during the day that the ground retaiuned heat and I haven’t heard of any damage to the fruit trees that are all already blooming. We never did get cold enough to kill off overwintering insects, so the growers are having to think about that too, and accept the poosibility of much greater damage from leaf eaters than usual. Organic growing isn’t a career for those who like things predictable, especially here in the south.

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 season. They’ll return in April, and you can catch the news on their website. The Comer Farmers’ Market is open on Saturday mornings from 10am to noon. Check www.facebook.com/comerfm for more information. Washington, GA also has a lovely little Saturday market, running on winter hours from 1-4. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. 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!

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 Market Open for February 23


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’m traveling today, so I’ll skip the usual newsletter-style email and let you get right to ordering. The spring items are really coming on strong now — the way the weather’s been, I’d expect to see the first asparagus and strawberries of the year any time now. Not this week, alas, but soon!

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 season. They’ll return in April, and you can catch the news on their website. The Comer Farmers’ Market is open on Saturday mornings from 10am to noon. Check www.facebook.com/comerfm for more information. Washington, GA also has a lovely little Saturday market, running on winter hours from 1-4. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. 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!

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 Market Open for February 16


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 you may have missed. When we started filling orders paperlessly a several 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 offically 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 officially open until 4:30pm, so if you’re in a hurry at 4 and want your items right away, there’s a good chance 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.

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 season. They’ll return in April, and you can catch the news on their website. The Comer Farmers’ Market is open on Saturday mornings from 10am to noon. Check www.facebook.com/comerfm for more information. Washington, GA also has a lovely little Saturday market, running on winter hours from 1-4. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. 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!

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 Market Open for February 9


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 bought my first seeds of the year this last week (from my favorite source, Sow True Seeds in Asheville), and now I’m itching to get out and get things planted. I moved to a new house late in the summer, one with sopme raised beds in the back yard, and I’m itching to make them my own. Thought I might this weekend, but I was laid low with a nasty cold, so it’ll have to wait a few more days, I suppose. The days are noticably longer, the weather is (strangely?) warm, and I’m feeling like Spring is right around the corner.

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 season. They’ll return in April, and you can catch the news on their website. The Comer Farmers’ Market is open on Saturday mornings from 10am to noon. Check www.facebook.com/comerfm for more information. Washington, GA also has a lovely little Saturday market, running on winter hours from 1-4. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. 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!

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 Market Open for February 2


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 a week in Lexington, Kentucky, where I served on the staff of the annual conference for the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. It’s one of my favorite events, and this year we had 1200 farmers from across the south and beyond gathering 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.

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 season. They’ll return in April, and you can catch the news on their website. 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 on winter hours from 1-4. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. 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!

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 Market Open for January 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

I don’t have much new to report this week. I’ve been getting ready to drive up to Lexington, KY Tuesday morning for the annual Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference, my favorite educational farming conference of the year. I’m on the staff, and they keep me busy, but I never fail to learn a ton of stuff and meet many wonderful people all the same. The very first SSAWG conference I was on the staff for was in Louisville, many years ago, and it’s a part of the South I don’t get to see very often.

While I’m away, I’ve left our Thursday market here in the hands of our many capable regular volunteers. There are a few things they can’t do, such as looking up account history and resolving old payment issues, so you can send those queries to me via email or wait until the following week. Also, Doug’s Salmon keeps his fish at my place in a freezer, and I bring his sales in to market for him. Since I’ll be gone, the fish will not be available to purchase this week. It’ll all be back next week, though.

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 season. They’ll return in April, and you can catch the news on their website. 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 on winter hours from 1-4. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. 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!

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 Market Open for January 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

One note for the week, before I talk more about the gritty details behind ALG: Next week I’ll be in Lexington, Kentucky for the annual conference of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG). About 1300 growers from across the country will be gathering to share knowledge and bring new ideas back home with them. I’m on the conference staff, and they keep me hopping, but I always look forward to going. I’ll be leaving our Thursday market here in the hands of our many capable regular volunteers while I’m gone. However, Doug’s Salmon keeps his fish at my house in a freezer and I bring his sales in to market for him. Since I’ll be gone next week the fish will not be available to purchase, so if you’re a regular purchaser, you’ll want to get enough to last you two weeks now.

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 had 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 season. They’ll return in April, and you can catch the news on their website. 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 on winter hours from 1-4. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. 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!

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 Market Open for January 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

I’m devoting the newsletter these first few weeks of the year to documenting in detail just how ALG works. I’ll spend some time next week talking about how growers get allowed in the market, and what standards they have to meet. But this week, I’ll get into the details of how the market sustains itself financially. Many of you ask about that from time to time, and I’m happy to oblige.

First off, we’re legally a sole proprietorship, and the market is owned and operated by me. In years past, it was rolled into my farm, and reported on my Schedule F in addition to my regular tax forms. For now, while my gardens have dwindled, it’s an item on my Schedule A, like many other small home businesses. When the market started in 2002, it was named “Locally Grown Cooperative”, but it was never legally organized as a co-op. Dan & Kris Miller, the founders from Heirloom Organics farm in Watkinsville, were always sure to run things in a cooperative spirit, and since they handed the business to me in 2004 (I’ve sold as a grower since day one), I’ve tried to do the same thing. I’ve since renamed it to “Athens Locally Grown”, but you’ll still hear a number of people refer to us as “the co-op”.

We’re not a non-profit, either, but we’ve structured things so that over time the market can just barely cover its own expenses. Just like all of our member farms are sustainable growers, the market itself needs to be sustainable. So how do we cover its expenses? One small way is through the memberships you pay. The $25 a year you give to the market is enough to cover the costs of having customers: banking fees from depositing your checks, paper and ink for printing, web hosting fees, and that sort of thing. What’s left over goes to helping fund farm tours, food donations to like-minded area groups and events, etc. We currently have 261 paid members out of the 3694 active accounts on the website.

By far the bulk of our funding comes from the growers themselves. They generally pay a 10% commission on their sales through the site. This money covers the many coolers we use, the tables and shelves used to spread out and organize your orders, the truck we bought at the end of 2007, gasoline, the food allowance we offer our volunteers, rent and utilities at Ben’s Bikes, etc. During the slow parts of the year, the sales are usually not enough to cover our weekly costs, but in the busy times (late fall and early spring, for us) there is extra. If we plan things out well, it pretty much all evens out in the end.

Last year, the total sales and memberships combined through the market amounted to $186,433. This is a about the same as last year, and I’m ok with that. The continual rise of so many other markets in the area is the biggest reason for staying flat. We used to be the largest farmers market in this part of the state, but only because the others were so small. Now, not only are there several very large area farmers markets throughout the week, but there are many other locallygrown markets serving customers that used to drive to Athens. About 90% of those sales went straight to our growers, and the rest went to a food allowance for our volunteers ($200 a week), rent ($350/month), web hosting, and transportation. The “profit” gets counted as personal income or loss on my tax forms, and almost always comes out even.

The growers get paid out of the shared cashbox for their previous week’s sales when they drop off their items, during the hour before we open the market. Then, you arrive and pay into the cashbox for your order. We used to then rush to the bank to deposit the money to cover the checks we just wrote to the growers, but now the growers get paid the following week (money you pay via credit cards takes up to a week to reach our account). As explained elsewhere on the website, you are really ordering directly from and paying the growers yourself, but our shared cashbox system makes things convenient for you and them. (Imagine if you ordered from ten growers having to write ten checks when you picked up your items!) This shared cashbox system has so far satisfied the tax man, but it does mean that if you place an order and then never arrive to pick it up, we’re left holding the bag. For that reason, you are responsible for paying for orders not picked up, and that amount is automatically added on to your next order for your convenience. On the books right now (going back to 2007) is about $4219 of produce ordered but never picked up and so far never paid for at all (or picked up but paid for with bad checks). That might seem like a lot (and it is), but considering that the market’s sales total, that’s not so bad. In fact, it’s about a sixth of the US retail industry’s “shrinkage” rate, and almost all of it is owed by only ten people. Only $200 came from this last year. On the flip side, $3812 has been pre-paid into the cash box by people who pay online via credit card or who write large checks in person, and then draw down on that balance over time.

There were 5119 orders placed last year, so that averages to $36.42 spent per order. There are many people who asctually place several small orders each week that we combine when we fill them, so really the average is quite a bit higher than that. There are no good studies on this number, but I’ve seen a few surveys conducted by the USDA indicate that the average customer spends $25 per trip to a farmers market. We continue to far exceed that average, which I think says a lot about the advantages ALG offers over the traditional market. And to your dedication to supporting our growers.

So, in probably far too much detail, that’s how we operate financially. Our market might be more expensive to run than a traditional “booths and tables” farmers market, but that price buys a system that’s simple, time-saving, flexible, and in my opinion, just better. There’s no money in the bank, but the market is paying for itself and that’s my primary financial goal. 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 season. They’ll return in April, and you can catch the news on their website. 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 on winter hours from 1-4. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. 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!

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!