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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Availability for May 10


It looked going in that I’d spend most of this weekend working inside as the gardens got some much needed rain. We did get some Friday night, but the rest of the weekend was just perfect for getting things done outside. The beds got weeded, drip hoses got laid out, the veggies that never recovered from the freeze got ripped out (and in some cases replanted), and the summer veggies started going in. We usually get a late frost the second week of May, but it looks like it’ll only get to the low 40s. So, in went about 60 heirloom tomato plants (about 30 different varieties), eggplant, cucumbers, squash, and beans. I started with my favorite bean (“Kentucky Wonder”) but I’ve got six other heirloom pole beans to try that different people have suggested to me. We’ll see if any of them can de-throne the Kentucky Wonders (and really, I don’t see how they possibly could).

We’ve got many, many new offerings this week. Too many to list here, but the “New Products” gizmo on the website does a pretty good job of showing off the goods. We have many heirloom lettuces, several fresh herbs, flower bouquets, zucchini, broccoli, and more. Cedar Grove Farm returns from winter this week with eight items. There’s 15 pounds of spinach offered (and really, that’s a lot of spinach). The list goes on.

There are five new “products” listed that aren’t products at all. Under the “Event Reservations” category, you’ll find listings for the five farm tours we have scheduled for this summer. It really helps our planning if you could reserve your spots (and in fact, spots are limited!), so if you plan on coming to any or all of them, just add the appropriate number of reservations to your order. The first tour is Saturday, May 19th at Two Swallows Farm in Comer. In general, the schedule for the tours are 10-noon group work sessions, then lunch on the farm (provided for all our volunteer farmers-for-the-day), followed by the tour itself. I’ve also added “Farm Tours” to the grower listings page, so our tour coordinator, Marc Tissenbaum, can keep us all updated on the details.

I spoke today with a neighbor of Milky Way Dairy. The fellow there, Mac, has been raising pastured hens for eggs for five years, and he’s looking for a market. “I’ve got just the place,” I told him, and starting next week you’ll find his eggs listed through Locally Grown. We’re always short on eggs in a big way, and he’ll be able to add 30 dozen or so to our listings each week. The hens are pastured, and he supplements with a grain mix he makes himself, including oats that he grows and a certified organic mineral mix. The more eggs we have available, the more demand there is, so we’re very glad to have Mac aboard. If you’ve tried any of the pastured eggs we offer, you’ll know why.

And, speaking of Milky Way Dairy, last week’s milk run had our pickup truck at (really beyond) capacity. We’ve run the numbers, and it looks like we can justify driving out to the dairies every week instead of twice a month. So, this will be the last week without dairy. We’ll go to Milky Way next week and the week after, and then starting June 7th we’ll alternate between Split Creek/Diamond Hill and Milky Way.

Even then, it won’t take much more growth before our pickup will be inadequate. Most folks think a refrigerated truck is the next step up, but at the Georgia Organics conference, visiting speaker Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia turned us on to the small buses often used by churches and senior centers. Turns out those places buy them new every ten years or so, maintain them perfectly, and then have problems selling them when it’s time for a new one. Joel now uses one for his farm’s deliveries, and it sounds like just the thing. I’m not sure we could afford one even at the rock bottom prices they go for, but if you belong to a church or group with one who is either looking to sell (or even lease) one, have them get in touch with us.

I think I’ve gone on for far long enough, so on to the food! Thanks so much for all your support, and please continue to tell your friends. The more customers we have, the more growers we have, and the more our community as a whole benefits. We’ll see you Thursday, from 4:30 to 7pm at Gosford Wine!

Availability for May 3


It seems the more I tell people about Locally Grown, what we do and how we do it, the more people seem to like it. Except for one little thing…

Our system has helped the growers considerably by taking out the speculation that goes into selling at a regular farmers market, and from what you’ve told me, it does the same for you the customer. In almost every respect, what we do is better than a traditional market. The one thing we lack, though, is the social atmosphere that a thriving market provides.

I know you all get a chance to meet each other and converse when you wait in line as I fall behind putting orders together, but that’s not the same thing. Many of you lived elsewhere before moving to Athens where markets were not just the place to go buy veggies, but were just the place to be, to meet up with friends, to watch demonstrations, etc.

We’ve managed to have the isolated event here and there, but things have shaped up this year to allow us to offer a series of coordinated events throughout the year that may help bring that missing piece back to our market. Thanks to the efforts of member Marc Tissenbaum, we’ll be offering monthly “Farmer For a Day” sessions at member farms each month, starting on May 19th at Two Swallows Farm in Comer. The full calendar and details are still coming together, but in general they’ll work like this: people will meet at the farm at 10am on a Saturday morning (organized car pooling is in the works). From 10 to noon, participants will get to see first-hand what goes into producing their food by helping with small fun and interesting projects the grower will have prepared. We’ll then have lunch (free for all volunteers) followed by a full tour of the farm. More details and a full schedule will follow, but if it sounds fun, mark your calendars for May 19th.

Justin Ellis, a recent Athens resident and new LG member is also organizing an interesting event of an entirely different sort. He calls it “Athens Tour de Farm” and here’s what he has to say:

“ATHENS Tour de Farm 2007 is a remarkable opportunity to see, touch, taste and explore a broad diversity of local farms during a three day bicycle journey across the North Georgia landscape. Over the course of the journey 30 riders will visit 8 farms in three counties, traveling nearly 100 miles, providing a host of stories to tell about great food, interesting farmers, and the secrets of our rural landscape. The event is held on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday on June 8th-10th. In that brief span of time we’ll visit an array of farms featuring cattle, quail, chickens, goats, alfalfa, wheat, organic fruits and vegetables, a dairy cow, blueberries, and even a farm powered by a mule named Luke. We’ll pass by small towns, antebellum homes, and even a covered bridge. Delicious farm fresh meals will be provided, and each night will camp in the pastures beneath the stars. Athens Tour de Farm promises to be a one of kind experience for the whole family; an educational opportunity wrapped up in an adventure! Now tell me that don’t sound neat! For more information on registration visit the website at http://www.farmlandconservation.org.”

We’ll have more details as that event draws closer, but if you’re interested in that, head over to his website. He only has a limited number of slots open for the tour.

And of course, if you’re a hermit (like I tend to be sometimes), you can continue to quietly slip into Gosford Wine to get your veggies and split. Nothing wrong with that.

One other note. Jim McBride, of Jim’s Farm, has this to say: “Jims Farm, Winterville can no longer produce the kind of food we all want due to a serious back problem. Anyone with a real [3+ days] interest in growing from seed to harvest, and all the chores in between, is invited to “work for food”. jimsfarm@alltel.net – 706-742-5805”

Finally, on to the produce. It is a dairy week, and we’ll be running to Split Creek and Diamond Hill to pick up your orders. Split Creek does have chevon (goat meat) this week, so now is your chance to get stew meat, roasts, and ground. They tend to sell out fairly quickly, so this week may be your only chance for those items.

Thanks for all your support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 7pm at Gosford Wine.

Availability for April 26


This week we welcome back Locally Grown founding grower Backyard Harvest from a long winter’s nap. Like my own place, Backyard Harvest tends to get hit by cold weather a bit harder than many of the other farms, and the recent freeze was no exception. Still, Boo and new wife Becky have several items to offer this week.

My new bees arrived last weekend, and they’ve been busy settling in to their new hive, located within sight of my back porch next to the pond, under an oak tree. They’ve been busy, exploring their new surroundings and bringing back pollen. They’re about to be very happy bees, as the first blackberry flowers are poised to open. By this time next week, they’ll find themselves in the middle of about 10 acres of blooming blackberry bushes.

Those of you with your own gardens may be interested in an event taking place next Saturday. The Southern Seed Legacy, an heirloom seed and heritage breed conservation group affiliated with UGA is hosting their 10th Annual Old Timey Seed Swap Saturday April 28th from 3 to 8pm at UGA’s Agrarian Connections Farm in Oglethorpe County (just outside Crawford, which is right down 78 a few minutes from Athens. Besides swapping seeds, the event will feature bluegrass music, southern BBQ (prepared by Slow Food Athens), tours of the new heritage orchard, and introductions to the herd of piney wood cattle. I’ve been meaning to get out to this event for five years now, and it looks like this will be the year. Directions and more info are at their website, linked above.

I’ve been so busy helping other markets get started with the website system that I’ve been neglecting our own. I’ve been meaning to flesh out the Q’s & A’s page for a while, and I’ll try to do that this week. I’ve already added one explaining our dairy schedule. I’m in the middle of writing one about how to prep your greens when you get them home (are they pre-washed? why or why not? how do I keep them longer? etc.). If there are any other questions you’d like to see answered, pass ‘em to me!

I think that’s enough rambling for this week. You’ll find more variety this week, as I’m sure you’ll find for the weeks to come. Some of the growers are planting the summer veggies now, and the rest of us have only a couple more weeks to wait. I can almost taste the Cherokee tomato!

Thanks for all your continued support. We’ll see you Thursday from 4:30pm to 7pm at Gosford Wine!

Availability for April 19


I had a nice long email to you all planned out, but after spending the evening filing my taxes, my brain has turned to mush. Let’s see if I can hit the highlights.

Sunrise Organic Farm returns after the winter with their first harvest of the year, a radish mix and turnip greens.

We welcome a new grower to Athens Locally Grown this week as well. High Shoals Eggs, run by a friend of a friend I’ve known for several years, has a small flock of 25 free-roaming, well fed, heritage breed hens. They’re starting to lay well now, so their eggs should ease our egg shortage we’ve been suffering of late. I’ve been eating some the last few days, and they’re almost as good as the eggs I used to get from my hens…

We’ll be making a run to Milky Way Farm this week for raw milk, buttermilk and cream from their Jersey cows. In two weeks we’ll return to Split Creek and Diamond Hill.

The bakery is still working on putting their business back together. They’re taking this opportunity to re-organize, and will re-open as “The Granary”, a certified organic bakery still following the same guiding principles as before.

Damage reports are still coming in from last week’s freeze. It looks like local fruit of all sorts will be in very, very short supply this year. Many of us also lost vegetable crops already in the ground, including several items that normally would survive a freeze. On the other hand, varieties that should have perished, such as the 200 feet of various heirloom lettuces, made it through with no harm at all.

Another Locally Grown market has opened this week in Conyers, GA, run by Brady Bala, of Athens Locally Grown grower Double B Farm. If you know anyone in the Conyers area that wants local food, point them to conyers.locallygrown.net.

I think that’s all the highlights for the week. I see 120 items listed on the website, so despite the sudden cold snap, new items are still rolling in.

Thanks for all your support, and we’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30pm to 7pm at Gosford Wine!

Spring Means Babies at Split Creek Farm


I nearly let this slip by me, but if you’ve got the day free tomorrow you might want to head out to Athens Locally Grown member farm Split Creek Farm for their annual Spring open house.

They’re just over the state line in South Carolina, just a couple miles off I-85. It’s an easy drive from Athens, and visiting their farm is well worth the travel.

Here’s the information from their flyer, and you can find out more about the event and their farm at their website, www.splitcreek.com.

SPRING MEANS BABIES AT SPLIT CREEK FARM, LLC

Saturday, APRIL 14, 2007

11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Split Creek Farm Grade A Goat Dairy is nationally known for its goat herd and the artisan cheeses and other quality goat milk products produced at the farm. The survival of America’s small farms is dependent on educating the public about rural life and the origin of their foods. Come join us for the day, and learn how one such farm operates.

Tours and demonstrations will be on going throughout the day. Learn about the different breeds of goats, tour the milking parlor, and visit with the farm animals. Photo opportunities available.

Our goat milk products are available for sampling all day. Food and drinks are available for purchase.

Take time to browse through our gift shop, The Hen House, featuring the art of Pat Bell as well as other gifts and collectibles.

Admission – Adults $4.00. Children 12 and under $2.00

Directions – from I-85 – Take Exit 14 (Hwy 187). Turn north toward Clemson Research Park, 2.7 miles. Turn right at the Mobile Gas station. Go 1/4 mile on Centerville Road. Farm is on the left.

Availability for April 12


Our availability is in turmoil this week, as three days of temperatures in the low 20s have done a number on all of our crops. We expect freezes this time of year (my own last frost date isn’t until the second week of May), but the previous warm weather caused the greens to grow too fast and the fruit to bud out early. It’s too early to tell for sure, but at least one grower has reported the loss of the year’s fig and blueberry crops, because the frozen buds won’t reform.

The spring greens didn’t get killed, but they did get bit back pretty hard. The young turnips are wilted, and the radish tops and lettuces are too. The potato plants were several inches tall last week, but are now back down to the dirt today. They all will recover, but it will just take some more time.

In the meantime, it’s nearly time to put out the summer plants and seeds. The farms near town have a last frost date in a couple weeks, and as I mentioned earlier, the outlying farms have a date several weeks later. Those of us that start our own seedlings have all of our cold protection (cold frames, hoop houses, and even heated greenhouses) focused on keeping them going through this late chill. The stuff already planted will make it through, but if those seedlings were to freeze, that’d be the end for them.

Anyway, we’ve all taken a guess what we’ll have this week. We’ve all been very conservative (what looks terrible today may turn out to be recovered by Thursday morning), so if you see quantities in the negatives, order anyway. If it turns out we can’t fill your order, I’ll call you as soon as I know (about 4pm on Thursday) so you don’t drive out for nothing.

Thanks for all your support, and remember—the warm season is nearly here! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 7pm at Gosford Wine.

Are You Sure You Want Seedlings?


Just to be sure there is no confusion, the seedling listings from Two Swallows Farms (Isis Cherry Tomatoes, Sugar Snap Peas, Swiss Chard, and Spinach) really are seedlings and not ready-to-eat veggies.

If you ordered any of those four items without seeing the whole story and want to cancel those items, let me know. Otherwise, Two Swallows will have seedlings for you to take home.

Availability for April 5


The PBS station of of North Carolina I get has started showing Gourmet Magazine’s “Diary of a Foodie”. This week the show focused on a Slow Food group in Melbourne, Australia, and some of the local places where they get their food. While watching about heritage black pork, fresh rhubarb, artisanal wines, and so forth, it got me thinking about how blessed we are here.

For example, last weekend I made a batch of butter with cream from Milky Way Farm. I used the light cream I bought, but could have just as easily used the heavy cream skimmed off the milk. I put it in my stand mixer, let the whisk run for twenty minutes or so, and had about a pound and a half of the sweetest, most wonderful butter you can imagine.

I’ve been using it all week, but tonight I chopped and sauteed an order of mushrooms from Double B Farm (along with a Georgia onion I had on hand) in the butter, let that cook down for 10 minutes or so, added a couple cups of stock and let that simmer for another while, and then added about a half cup of milk from Diamond Hill Farm.

On the side was some lettuces and spinach from Mills Farm and McMullan Family Farm, topped with some crumbled feta cheese from Split Creek Farm, drizzled with some vinegar and olive oil (those two ingredients took the longest trip to get to our table).

That was our Sunday meal, on the whole inexpensive and most every ingredient supplied by people we knew personally. And the reason why we can eat this way, the way (I believe) food should be, is because of you supporting your local growers. From me and all of our growers, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Speaking of growers, we welcome back one of Locally Grown’s founding farms, Two Swallows Farm in Comer. They have been in stealth mode the past few years as Melissa Tufts has been pursuing her professional certification as a landscape architect, but she couldn’t resist the drive to propagate bedding plants and garden seedlings out of her greenhouse. You’ll see her offerings in the “Live Plants” section of the website. I’m also returning to market with the first of the heirloom French Breakfast radishes (I think I know where the last of the butter is going… see my radish description for details) as well as some baby turnip greens. We also have arugula, salad mix, more of that fantastic asparagus, mushrooms, and more besides.

By the way, there is a local Slow Food group here in Athens, started by some Locally Grown members, naturally. They’ve just gotten off the ground, but they do have an email list you can join.

We’ll see you on Thursday, from 4:30pm to 7pm at Gosford Wine!

Availability for March 29


Like a switch was turned on, the heat is here. I actually had to come in and rest during midday to escape the sun—maybe I’m just not used to it after taking so long off.

I’m expecting a new colony of bees pretty much any minute now. Those of you who have been with us for a while might remember the floods that drowned my hive in 2005. I had to climb trees downriver to recover my hive bodies! Well, thanks to Double B Farm, I’ll soon have another hive full of busy little bees, taking advantage of the many acres of wild blackberries and helping my garden grow. I moved them high enough that if a flood gets them this time, we’ll all have a lot more to worry about than just the loss of a hive.

In other news, looking at the calendar today I realized I didn’t plan ahead well enough for the dairy. We normally run to Split Creek and Diamond Hill on the first week of each month and Milky Way on the third week. This means the occasional three week stretch between dairy runs. Well, I didn’t give you any warning that it’d be three weeks last time, and I’m even out of milk myself (I forget what store milk tastes like, so I’m actually dreading getting some from the store tomorrow), so we’ll go ahead and make a dairy run this week. It will be three weeks until the next one, so plan your orders accordingly.

There are a few new items this week, including baby romaine and a lettuce and spinach mix. Supplies of everything this early in the season are limited, but another week of good weather will help a lot.

Finally, some of you have been asking about more info on Whole Earth Granary. They are still recovering from the loss of everything in their bakery (including their ovens), so we still do not have anything from them. As soon as they are back and baking, you’ll see them listed here.

That about wraps it up. Thanks again for all your support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30pm to 7pm at Gosford Wine!

Availability for March 22


Hello from Las Vegas! My off-farm job has me on the road this week at a trade show here. It’s my first trip here, and being the nerd that I am, I haven’t done much other than visit the Star Trek Experience. Something tells me that the flaming ribs they served me at the restaurant there were not organic (and they were literally on fire as they were brought to the table), but they were tasty nonetheless.

The produce listing will continue to be in flux over the next few weeks as the spring season gets underway. There are fewer leafy greens this week, but there are a few new items, including the first of the asparagus crop from Mills Farm. We also have eggs from both Mills and Double B farm listed, so those of you who have been coming by early to see if we had some on the table can now just order them directly.

Things grow slowly this time of year, but a day comes when it seems like everything doubles in size overnight and there is more than enough to go around. Until that day comes, just get your order in early for the best chances at what our growers do have.

Thanks again for all your support, and we’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 7pm at Gosford Wine!