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 September 4


Normally later winter is the time of year for growers to get together at various conferences around the country. Two I go to every year is the Southern Sustainable Working Group (SSAWG) conference, being held this year in Chatanooga in January, and the Georgia Organics conference, held typically in February. They’re not just for growers, though, and I highly recommend them to anyone interested in local and sustainably grown food.

There’s a third conference I’ve always meant to go to, held atypically in the fall each year. The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association has a long history in North and South Carolina. They held their conference last year right up I85 in Greenville, but I didn’t find out about it until the day it was going on, and I thought I missed the opportunity to go while it was so close. Well, this year it’s even closer, in Anderson, SC, just up US 29 from Athens. It’s being held on October 31 through November 2 and includes a multitude of farm tours (including two dairies who sell through Athens Locally Grown), educational workshops, and some very good food. Follow the link for more information and to pre-register.

Availability this week took a little dip, but there are a few new items listed this week. Roots Farm has finished their CSA season and is now steering al that produce out way, so even with fewer varieties listed, there is more to go around. We’re just starting to see the beginnings of the fall items, but they’ll be pouring in before too long. First frost in Athens is typically in late October, so the tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and the like will also stick around until then.

Thanks again for all of your support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old state farmers market building on Broad Street.

Availability for August 28


We spent all of today celebrating our daughter’s fourth birthday, and that got me to remembering how things were four years ago. Vivian was born early in the morning on a Thursday, market day, after four hard days of labor. Dan Miller, founder of Athens Locally Grown, had already passed the market on to my wife and I, but he generously filled in for me that day. Back then, we had maybe two or three dozen orders each week, and pickup was in the de facto park where the Cobb House was leter reconstructed. Back then, everyone’s orders fit into a couple ice chests, and Thursday pickups were a lazy affair. Some of you may remember later that year, as we went year-round for the first time, Vivian bundled in her parka and strapped to my chest as we handed out orders to a handful of people at the patio at Big City Bread in the dead of winter.

Everything has grown since then. Vivian’s learning to read and swim and helps in the garden every chance she gets. Athens Locally Grown is closing in on 1500 customers and it takes essentially a fleet of trucks to get all the produce to the pickup site. (Speaking of which, thank you all for your patience when our own refrigerated truck gave us a scare and made the dairy items show up fifteen minutes late.) We now have eight people filling orders at a time, and still the line, though fast moving, is daunting right at 4:30. Some people who were market customers four years ago are now selling produce from their own gardens, adding to the list of growers that is now over 50 strong.

It’s so nice to see things grow and take hold, whether it’s the market, cauliflower seeds in my garden, or my own daughter. It’s nice to know that enough people know what’s involved in putting the market together each week, and have had a major hand in pulling it off, that it’s pretty much certain that Athens Locally Grown is an Athens fixture. Should circumstances conspire to keep my wife and I from managing the market, I know that it’ll keep going on its own, and that gives me great peace of mind. Not that we’re planning on going anywhere, mind you.

I see a number of new items on the site this week. The winter squashes are really coming in, I noticed someone has pears, there are even more varieties of tomatoes, field peas have returned, there’s yet another type of garlic I’ve never tried, and more. The weather has stayed just cool enough that while the overall quantity of produce has dropped a bit, the usual August doldrums have stayed away. In fact, on Saturday Cedar Grove Farm hosted us for our August “Farmer for a Day” event, and it was just a perfect day to be out on the farm. If you missed out, our next even will be next month at Backyard Harvest. It’s on a Sunday this time, too. We’d love to see you there. It’s free, but limited space makes us take reservations, and you’ll find more details on the website in the “Event Reservations” category.

Thank you all for your continued support! We’ll see you on Thursday, from 4:30 to 8pm at the old state farmers market on Broad Street.

Availability for August 21


Last week was a record week for Athens Locally Grown all around. Total sales, number of orders, number of products available, pretty much every measure blew past our previous records by 10% or more. There was a long line at times on Thursday, but we had more workers filling orders than ever before, and the line seemed to move fairly quickly. It seemed that way to me, anyway, and I hope your experience was the same. We’ll continue to adapt our end of things as needed to match the growth.

There were a number of new faces picking up orders last week. The new school year always brings Athens more people looking for what our growers provide, and we welcome you all! The other markets and CSAs have in the past started to taper out in the early fall, but we keep right on going year round. Indeed, except for a traditional late August lull, fall tends to be our biggest season.

Next Saturday is our next “Farmer for a Day” event, hosted this month by Cedar Grove Farm. We spend a couple hours in the morning doing easy farm tasks that benefit from many hands, have lunch on the farm, and then take a full tour. The event is free (including lunch) but we do ask that you make reservations. You can do so by adding the reservations to your order, and you can find more details about this and upcoming events in the “Event Reservations” category.

Thanks again for all of your support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30pm to 8pm at the old state farmers market on Broad Street.

Availability for August 14


I mentioned a few weeks ago that mid-August brings along with its heat a reduction in all of our veggies except okra, which thrives. Right on schedule, we now have an abundance of okra. We also have many other items, as the growers have been doing everything in their power to coax their tomato vines, bean bushes, corn stalks, squash hills, and other plants producing just a little while longer. It’s a tough fight, and the drought hasn’t made things any easier. And on top of all that, now is the time for the growers to begin planting their fall crops. Many of these plants hate heat above all else, yet the growers have to get the seeds to germinate and then the seedlings strong enough to begin producing when the cooler days arrive. Some of the growers achieve this be planting everything indoors in the shade and then transplanting them at the last possible moment. Others direct seed right in the ground but try to keep things cool with shade cloth, near constant slow irrigation, and plenty of mulch. It’s hard work, but once the heat is behind us we’re all rewarded with the fruits of fall. And despite the extra effort at the beginning, fall is my favorite season to garden here in North Georgia.

Last week was the first week of school, and just like years past, there were an unusual amount of no-shows. Remember that I have to charge you anyway, even if you don’t come to pick up what you’ve ordered, since I’ve by then already paid the growers on your behalf. I do make reminder calls to everyone who hasn’t arrived by 7:30, using the number you added to your account. Most of the time, I get answering machines, and that doesn’t do either of us any good. If you have a cell phone, use that number so I’ll have a better chance of reaching you. You can set your phone number (and change other account info) on the “Your Account” page of the site.

Also last week we had at least two people show up to pick up orders they hadn’t fully placed. Adding items to your shopping cart does not place your order. You have to “check out” by clicking the link in your shopping cart and confirming the order. Just like at the grocery store, items in your cart aren’t yours until you go through the checkout. Unlike the grocery store, you don’t have to wait in line. When you check out, you’ll get an immediate email confirming your order. You’ll also see your order in your order history, also on the “Your Account” page. If you didn’t get an email and there are still items in your cart, then you haven’t checked out and we won’t have anything waiting for you on Thursday.

Finally, remember that our next Farmer for a Day event is in two weeks at Cedar Grove Farm. This was one of the most popular tours last year, and we’re happy to be going there again this year. If you’d like to participate, it is free but we’ll need you to make reservations. You can do so along with your order. Just look in the “Event Reservations” category fro more information.

Thanks for all your support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old state farmers market on Broad Street.

Availability for August 7


Welcome to August! We’ve got a record number of available items this week, 515 in all as I write this. The new products carousel on the market page is full of great items, so be sure to give it a spin to see everything that’s been added.

We said farewell to three of our volunteers in the last few weeks. Molly Neely-Burnam has been working most every week for over a year, but she and her family is moving to Savannah. Kate Dunbar was a backup, but she is continuing her studies in South America for the next couple years. And Marie Mize, also a backup, is staying in Athens but was offered a position at UGA’s Law Library that will keep her busy on Thursdays. We’re all sad to see them go, but now you have the opportunity to take their place. Our volunteers work from 3:30 to 8pm on Thursdays in exchange for a $50 credit. The work consists mainly of organizing the produce as the growers drop it off and filling orders as customers arrive, and it takes a full staff of six to get the job done. We have two vacancies for this week, and could use several more of you as backups. If you’re able to work, regularly or semi-regularly, please let me know. Let me know even if you’ve told me before and I put you on my list. I made my list many months ago, and as I go through it, it seems many people on it have a totally different schedule now.

I’ll be giving a seasonal cooking demonstration Thursday night at the Rolling Pin. On the menu are Okra Chips, Eggs in a Tomato Nest, Indian Lamb Stuffed Eggplant, Calibacitas (a traditional New Mexican dish of squash, corn, and tomatoes), and Chile Rellenos. I think there are still a few seats open. The cost $35 and can be reserved by calling the Rolling Pin at 706-354-8080. My class last month got canceled due to lack of participants, but this one is on for sure. I’m looking forward to it, and can envision this being a fun regular event.

Last week I gave my recipe for canning what I call “Instant Tomato Sauce”. I wasn’t specific about how long to process the jars in the boiling water bath, and several of you had questions about that. Depending on where you look, you’ll find 45 minutes to an hour recommended. I go for a full hour, gently boiling in water deep enough to completely cover the jars, and you can find the jars in pretty much any grocery store.

Thanks again for all of your enthusiastic support of your local growers. We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old state farmers market on Broad Street!

Availability for July 31


It was a busy and wonderful week for local food in Athens. We held our July Farmer for a Day event on Saturday, hosted by the wonderful folks at Roots Farm. The crew of farmers harvested and cleaned quite a few leeks, weeded tomatoes and other veggies, took down vine cages that had served their purpose, and added to the compost pile. After lunch, we had a full tour of what is one of Athens’ oldest organic vegetable farms. Meanwhile, PLACE had put together a full week of events, and by all accounts it was a smashing success. Friday evening I served on a panel discussing local food issues, especially as they relate to poverty, and was very glad I went. Saturday night saw the first annual Athens Local Food Awards. Winning the award for excellence in farming was our hosts that morning, Roots Farm. Winning for excellence in education was Amanda Tedrow, the Clarke County Extension Agent for the department of Agriculture. Amanda was instrumental in getting us permission to use the old state farmers market building. Her office is right next door to the market, so feel free to stop in and say hello and check out the fine work she is doing for all of us there. And winning the award for excellence in business was… Athens Locally Grown. Thank you so much! It was touching to hear the comments many of you shared about this experiment we’ve all been a part of. ALG is something I’m very, very proud of, and I’m so glad you all feel the same way.

There’s one more event coming up. Next Tuesday, August 5th, I’ll be giving a demonstration of cooking with the items now or soon to be in the peak of season—tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, etc. The class is at the Rolling Pin, costs $35, and reservations can be made by calling them at 706-354-8080. Also, we’re taking reservations for our next Farmer for a Day event, being held at Cedar Grove Farm on the 23rd.

This is also probably a good time to give you a heads up about next month’s availability. This always catches people off guard, but August tends to be the leanest month of the year in terms of veggie availability. For three or four weeks, it tends to just get to hot and muggy for flowers to properly set fruit, and suddenly everything comes to a halt. It tends to only last those few weeks, and then things pick up again in September through frost. About the only thing that thrives in the heat is okra, and it comes in by the truckload. The growers all try different techniques to minimize the disruption, which is just one of many challenges of growing vegetables in the south.

That said, there are a number of new items this week. The winter squash (so named not because that’s when it is ripe, but rather because it keeps all winter long) is coming in, the pepper variety is way up, the canning tomatoes are here, I use this recipe to very, very simply make a ready-made pint of tomato sauce. In a pint canning jar, drop in two to four cloves of peeled garlic. Add a few basil leaves. Take roma tomatoes, dunk them in boiling water for 15 seconds and then dunk them in ice water. Their skins will crack and then slip right off. Pack three or four whole romas in the pint jar. Add a few more basil leaves, and then a squirt of lemon juice. You should have liquid in the jar up to about a half inch from the top. Put on the lids, and process in a hot water bath (no pressure canner required!). When it comes time to use, just heat up the contents (in the jar in the microwave is fine) and mash with a fork. Instant sauce, perfect for a single meal. I make 25 or so of these in the summer, and that’s enough to last me to the next summer.

This message has gone on for long enough. There’s 490 products to look through, and I don’t want to hold you up any longer. Thanks so much for all of your continued support of your local food producers! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old state farmers market on Broad Street.

Availability for July 24


This week’s availability listing looks much like last week’s, but only more of it. More melons, more corn, more tomatoes, more basil, and so on. It’s a fine time to try varieties you’re not used to, especially if you’re a gardener yourself (it’s never too early to start planning next year’s garden).

P.L.A.C.E.’s “Taste Your Place” event continues this week, with activities every day and culminating in the first annual Athens Local Food Awards at a fund raising banquet at Farm 255 Saturday night. You can find more information about “Taste Your Place” at PLACE’s website and you can vote for your favorite local farmers and food-oriented businesses (including Athens Locally Grown) right here.

We’ve also got our own “Farmer For A Day” event this Saturday, and this month we’re heading over to Roots Farm (right in Clarke County, so it’s a short drive). We’ll be doing odd jobs around the farm from 10 to noon, then we’ll have lunch (free for all workers), and then we’ll have a full tour afterwards. The event is free, but space is limited so we’d like you to make reservations. You can do so right with your order, and you’ll find details in the “Event Reservations” category.

Sundance Farm asked me to pass along that they will be on vacation next week, so if you’ve gotten into the habit of ordering garlic and onions each week, you’ll want to double up this week. Don’t worry, they’ll keep with no trouble.

We all thank you again for your support, and remember to pass along any ideas you have for events and activities we can have during Thursday pickups, now that we have quite a bit of elbow room. We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old state farmers market building on Broad Street!

Availability for July 17


There are quite a few new items this week, including the first melons and apples, more tomatoes, and lots more. I’m especially pleased to announced that Athens’ own Righteous Juice is offering a number of fresh juices starting this week. Their juices have gotten hard to find retail in Athens, so here’s your opportunity to load up the fridge each week.

There are a several events coming up you should be aware of. First, local food advocacy group P.L.A.C.E. has organized “Taste Your Place”, a ten day series of events throughout town highlighting our local foods on July 17th through 26th. There are more events than I can list here, but you can find all the details at their website, linked above.

We are also holding our third “Farmer for a Day” event on the 26th, hosted by Roots Farm. Previously known as Beaver Farm when run by Paul Chew, this farm has been bringing organic food to Athens for ten years or more. The Farmer for a Day event is free and includes lunch and a full tour, but reservations are needed. You can make reservations by adding them to your order—look in the “Event Reservations” category for details.

Also, I’m teaching another cooking class at the Rolling Pin on Tuesday August 5th. I’ll be demonstrating how to make the most of the late summer veggies, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, and more. The class costs $35, and you can sign up by calling the Rolling Pin at 706-354-8080.

Finally, the new location is really working out well, from our standpoint anyway. The extra space gives us the opportunity to try some new things, so if there’s something you’d like to see on Thursdays (live music, “Meet the Farmer” events, tastings, etc.) send your ideas my way. Keep in mind that we have no utilities, so no water or electricity is available at the site.

Thanks for all of your continues and growing support! We’ll see you on Thursday at the old farmers market building on Broad Street from 4:30 to 8pm.

Availability for July 10


I hope everyone had a safe and happy Independence Day. My family went up to Dahlonega (not that much further than Athens is from our house) where the whole town and then some turned out for an old fashioned Fourth that included public readings of the Declaration and the Constitution, stump speeches on the town square, spontaneous bluegrass jam sessions on the sidewalk, a concert in the park, and a great fireworks display to top it all off. It was just like “the good old days”. You know, the days of old when food was grown largely by people you knew and you weren’t beholden to international conglomerates, free trade agreements, and the price of oil for the food you put on your plate.

We’ve taken a few more steps toward our goal this week with the addition of a new farm, Dillwood Farms. You may have seen them the past two weeks at the Saturday market, and now their items are available through Athens Locally Grown as well. We’d grown to the point where most everything was selling out by Tuesday, so maybe this will help things spread out a little more. I’m also very, very happy to announce the first batch of pastured chicken from Nature’s Harmony Farm. It’s a small batch, but is hopefully just the first of many to come. Chicken is one of our most requested items, and I’m hopeful that Nature’s Harmony will show some of us other growers by example how to navigate the legal system and add poultry to our diversified farms.

And on the topic of the legal system, we are experiencing a shortage of eggs right now. A new GA Ag. Dept. inspector has taken over the Athens beat, and is (in my opinion) over enforcing the rules. I’ll spare you the details (it involves the distinction between “mechanical refrigeration” vs. “refrigeration”), but several growers are sitting out on selling eggs until everything gets straightened out. Hopefully we can get that straightened out soon.

Finally, I wanted to touch upon the issue of packaging. Now that everything is laid out right before you on Thursday, you’ve got a better idea of what is involved in organizing all of your orders. The growers pack and label each individual item (we’re not legally able to do that for them at market) for you, and that means a lot of bags. We all despise plastic as much as anyone, so we’re all doing what we can to make it more palatable. Some of us use bags you can easily reuse in your kitchen (such as “zip locks”). Some of us use paper. And some of us are experimenting with bags derived from cornstarch and other bio-degradable materials. And of course you can help out by bringing your own large reusable bags or boxes to take everything home in. If you don’t, we do have bags that are both recycled and recyclable (#2). In short, there’s more packaging that is ideal, but we’re certain that all considered we’re still much better than the grocery store.

Thanks again for all of your support of your local growers. We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old state farmers market on Broad Street!

Availability for July 3


I think everyone agreed that the new location (the old state farmers market building on Broad Street) worked out really well last week. The place has a lot of potential, and it was great to see what has become an essentially abandoned building get used again for what it was intended. It’s on the state’s surplus property list and could get sold at any time, but while its still available to us, we’ll be putting it to good use.

If you’re looking for recipe ideas for how to put what’s in season right now to use in your kitchen, I’d love for you to join me Tuesday night at the Athens Rolling Pin (in the Beechwood shopping center). I’ll be teaching a cooking class on eating locally, using what’s in the peak of season right now. The class runs one night from 6:30 to 8:30 and costs $35. There are still seats available, and you can sign up by calling the Rolling Pin at 706-354-8080. Based on what was available at the Saturday market this week, I’ve put together a menu of Green Bean Salad with Pecans and Parmesan, Whipped Kohlrabi and Potatoes, Leek and Beet Soup, Calabacitas (a New Mexican dish featuring zucchini, onion, tomato, and corn), and Finnish Berry Rice. I’ll also be discussing the generalities of preparing early summer produce. And yes, I’ll be making enough for everyone!

That’s about it for this week. You’ll see a whole great list of new items listed this week—give a spin through the “New Items” carousel to see what I mean. Thank you so much for your continued support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old state farmers market building on Broad Street.